Monday, May 31, 2010

Everything Added Means Something Else Is Lost

I'm on a support committee for a f/Friend (which is Quakerspeak for a friend who is also a Friend) who is participating in a 2 year long spiritual program called School of the Spirit. She forwarded notes that someone (don't know who) made about a talk with Quaker educator Max Carter after a visit with an Amish community to learn about their ways of understanding. The notes are fascinating but a particular paragraph almost took my breath away:

Making decisions: (1) Scripture; (2) How our forefathers implemented that scripture. Everything added to life means something else is lost, and usually you lose more than you gain. What would this new thing bring with it? You have to manage each thing or it manages you...Simplifying our
lives allows us to better enjoy what we have...I'm reflecting on bringing complexity into my life: What do I have to manage; what does this item take away?

Wow. I am completely blown away by this idea. How would my life be different if I prayerfully considered each thing before I brought or allowed it into my life? The idea that everything you add takes something away and discerning the more important value before making any change is so obvious and so foreign. How much more simple and centered on my true values, on God's will for me would I be if I asked this simple question. I'm nowhere near there but this idea/exercise speaks deeply and powerfully to me.


Anonymous said...

There's a guy who's a popular organize-your-life-guru (Peter something). He has a book about how excess clutter in your house is related to excess weight on your body. I wonder how the excess clutter in my house (is related to excess weight) but maybe also an excess in thoughts, pressures to do certain things and be busy with certain things. At the end of the day, I wonder how often I can say that I spent my time on the things I found most meaningful, helpful or most satisfying or enjoyable. Too much of the time I probably live my life like a deranged squirrel, running here and there for more nuts,scattering them all around, and can I even find them when I need them? I wonder if there's also a relationship between how you manage your money and your time and energy. I've come to be more conscious about money and calorie counts. I've thought that using my time and energy should be similar. Where should I put them to get the most of my investment in terms of what makes me feel most connected to my core, to Spirit, to other people; to being the person I envision being. Not the deranged squirrel. Simplicity seems to be the key. But as a f/Friend recently reminded me, simple does not necessarily easy. So how do you nurture a way of living that acts as a sieve or strainer? If all of the things,choices that come to you in the day were like grains of sand, how to filter them to let the trivial ones fall and focus on the larger stones that you can capture and treasure the most? prayer,meditation,shared worship...I think I'll go do some journaling :) Heide S.

Friendly Mama said...

The commitment to ask questions and seek discernment before adding anything new to my life really speaks to me. Also, with a community like the Amish or Mennonite, it is the community doing the discerning rather than an individual. Of course, we don't sublimate our individual selves to a collective standard but I do think that community support and knowing one another on a more intimate and daily level would help foster deeper awareness and aid in the discernment. Honestly Heidi, if you could see my clutter, you'd either feel totally good about yourself or you'd run away in fear of becoming like me!
Mary Linda

Barnmaven said...

I wish I'd read this 20 years ago. Not kidding one little bit.

I just "discovered" your blog from your comments on a post at John Shore's. Definitely adding you to my daily reading list! I am intrigued by your thoughts on Christianity. I am a returnee to my faith after many years of running away, having been hurt to the core by evangelicals. At the age of 44, I think I finally understand that my faith can be MINE and not dictated by others. That God is not His followers, the He exists without their permission and their rules. That's sort of a long way of saying that some of what you say resonates with me, very much.

I love your writing.

I'm a Mary too.

Friendly Mama said...

Mary 2,
Absolutely! God (I think) allows you to meet God right exactly where you are now, not as anybody else dictates. The thing that I found was that God had been with me the whole time I wasn't really believing but I had simply been too busy to hear and understand.

It's neat that you found me via John's blog. I don't get to write very often anymore (which is my fault and my sorrow). Perhaps knowing someone is checking in will help me to be more faithful to this daily epistle.

I look forward to reading about your horse-sense, too.
Nice to meet you-
Mary Linda