"Simple living," writes Native American, Franciscan sister, and retreat leader Jose Hobday, "is about freedom. It's about a freedom to choose open and generous living rather than a secure and sheltered way. . . . Simple living is about moving through life rather lightly, delighting in the plain and the subtle."

The decision to practice this lifestyle grows out of an inner stance and a path of discernment. Blocks to simple living are all around us — a culture built upon consumerism, a spending mentality, and a sense of entitlement that enables us to have more than we need. Americans are now 5 percent of the world's population, consuming 82 percent of the world's raw materials. Hobday quotes Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton who said wisely: "Let us live simply so that others may simply live."

The rest of this sturdy little book of practical spirituality consists of wise advice on sharing (using the Native American ritual of the giveaway as a model), fasting, focusing our energies, and rejoicing in the adventure of faith. There are chapters on food, clothing, shelter, work, transportation, and recreation.

Try a Spiritual Practice on Joy