Seventh Understanding

7. We are challenged by a call to simplicity. Our deepest need is to grow in our knowledge and love of God, not the accumulation of more material things. There is a beauty in space, in openness, in solitude. We seek to enjoy beauty without owning or possessing; to stay focused, single minded, with purity of desire.

Simplicity. That’s the name of the game. In Western culture, we seem to be about getting more stuff - and getting it right now. This, I think, comes from a number of things. First, there’s a lack of quality in a lot of products. Things used to be made to last. Granted, nothing would last for ever, but things used to be made to last a lot longer than they do now.

Second, stuff is obtained through credit. There was a time that things were bought with real money and real money only. This fact alone caused people to take care of the things they purchased. And those items were things they really needed. If it was something that couldn’t be purchased immediately, one would have to save her money and purchase it later. But, since credit was established, people don’t have to save their money. They can purchase the items immediately and then make payments on them. This, of course, means that people are paying a lot more for the items they want since the credit will have a large interest rate. But, nonetheless, we can have what we want when we want it.

This leads to the third point. We are now throw away consumers. We consume everything. As soon as something comes out, we want it now. Not later, right now. Even if our current item is still working, still a really good product, we want the latest and greatest. So, we end up throwing away our current stuff so we can get the newest stuff.

I work in Information Technology (IT). In my line of work, the latest and greatest comes out all of the time. It’s been said that technology doubles every eighteen months. Well, technically, it was the number of transistors on integrated circuits that were predicted to double every two years. This is known as “Moore’s Law.” And, so far, it’s been pretty accurate. Think about the processor - the “engine” of the whole computer, if you will - in the current line of computers (whether they’re desktops, laptops, servers, or tablets). About two years ago, the speed of the processor was about half as fast as the current models. It seems like only yesterday I was reading about “dual-core” processors in laptops (think of these as V8 engines). Recently, I’ve been reading about “quad-core” processors in laptops (yep, V16 engines). That’s incredibly fast.

Or, something that’s even more astonishing - “smartphones.” The technology in the average smartphone has more computing power than that which was used in the moon landing.

But what happens? When the latest smartphone comes out, our current one is “slow.” Suddenly, it doesn’t work “right.” Or whatever lame excuse we have. Some people will even break their existing contract (which costs hundreds of dollars) they have with the cellular provider just so they can get a new phone!

However, technology isn’t all bad! For example, when I was going through clergy training, I was given an e-reader for my birthday. I then went through and changed my reading lists for electronic versions! This saved a lot of resources - trees, paper, ink, electricity, fuel, shipping, etc. Not to mention shelf space and clutter in my library. To this day, I still have my full curriculum on my device! To me, this is a way of simplifying and exactly what we’re striving for in the Lindisfarne Community.

In the LC we are trying to realign our lives with simplicity. To say “no” to ourselves and “yes” to following Christ further, deeper. Certainly, there are times when we need “things” but those same “things” shouldn’t control us. It’s a complete different way of thinking. Going “old school.” The way of the systems of the Western world don’t get it. They’re all about moving forward. And while I get that, sometimes, perhaps a lot of the time, it’s not necessarily the right thing to do. To choose to change for change's sake is usually the wrong decision.

Living simply isn’t limited to “stuff,” either. It’s also a mind set. It’s about changing the way we live in the world. For example, I have a set of bamboo utensils. I carry them almost everywhere I go (they’re in my bag and my bag goes with me almost everywhere). When we have a luncheon at work, I take them with me. People look at me like I’m weird. Someone once said, “Your wooden spoon isn’t going to save the world.” To which I said, “Maybe. Maybe not. But if everyone brought their own, we wouldn’t have to keep buying and throwing away the plastic ones.”

Simplicity, to me, is looking at how I’m currently living and seeing if there are ways I can change it - save money, energy, time, etc. Of course, I will still be spending money, energy, time, etc., but I’m striving to be wise about how and with whom I spend them. I’m asking, “How can I simplify my life?” And, honestly, I really have to thank my wife for this, too. She is very instrumental in this. She was thinking this and working on this a long time before me. Now, together we’re looking for ways we can live simply day to day. And that’s what it’s about. A daily practice. Finding ways to live simply.

In the Love of the Three in One,

Br Jack+, LC


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