Minimalism, down-sizing, simplification: these seem to be the mode of our times. It's about having less clutter, or getting by with less, or creating more open space with less distraction. Spiritually, it is the exercise of detachment. Some situations necessitate it such as moving to smaller living spaces or making adjustments because of emergent health issues. Otherwise, it is a choice. I'm working towards it ... slowly it seems. For a few years, I committed myself to fasting once a week. More recently, I've tailored my diet. As for the "stuff" in my life I still have more than I really need. My clothes closets and dressers are due for a serious clearing out this spring. Alternatively, I am endeavouring to share more of my stuff, and time, and food with others. The guiding motivation is gratitude for all the blessings God has enabled me to enjoy so far in life. I celebrate those who are part of our Marshall congregation who have managed to take simplification further than I have.
Giving and letting go are a far more satisfying way of faithful living that continuously taking and accumulating. Biblically, it is a way of exercising stewardship, which is really about the care and management of all of life: possessions, money, health, resources, talents, time, relationships, bearing witness, environmental consciousness, energy, seeking justice, self-care, and keeping connected to God. An American preacher once defined it: "Stewardship is everything I do after I say, 'I believe'." Still easier said than done.
Inspiring and encouraging words come from Cistercian (Trappist) monk Basil Pennington:
"A fasting attitude multiplies the enrichment while it minimizes the consumption. And it gives birth to freedom. We can learn the freedom of getting along with less clothing, less heat, less sound to fill our silences, less objects to fill our spaces, less diversions to fill our time. The little, when given a chance to blossom and express all its own proper reality, can with its beauty fill to overflowing all our capacities. As we grow in gratitude and appreciation, we need less and less of creation, we are free and freer to find in ourselves and in the expansive little we already have, all that we want and need." [A Place Apart: Monastic Prayer and Practice for Everyone, pages 69-70, Doubleday and Co., New York, NY: 1983].
Thanks be to the God who helps us give and let go so we can more fully live.