1 June 2009

'Tis a gift to be simple

Pentecost was a bit subdued at St James' yesterday. We always have a pulpit swap with Sts Peter & Paul Catholic Church: our vicar goes there, and their priest comes to preach to us. They've got a new parish priest, and this is one of the first times I've heard him preach. He's pretty good. He preached (surprise surprise) on the descent of the Holy Spirit, but also on the importance of Spirit in our lives and in the world: how the love that is God works in and through us to bring life and joy to our world, our lives, and the lives of others. It seemed to mesh quite well with other things I've been thinking about, although I'm not sure yet at what level or in what way!

One lovely thing yesterday was our new organist: Sophie was one of the girls who was in the youth group that hubby and I used to lead (before I got pregnant with the rugrat). It was her first time, and she did a great job. She played a lovely voluntary, the psalm and hymns were at a good pace, and she got all the responsories in the right places at the right time. I know she was nervous but it was really brilliant, and it was nice to see "one of our girls" doing such a great job.

One thing I have been thinking about a bit lately is simplicity: what does it mean, why do we bother, what's the point? What does it mean for a Franciscan to be simple, when that Franciscan is also supporting a family?

I had a bit of a clue on Friday when I was sitting on our front doorstep eating icecream with our three-year-old daughter. She was giving herself a chocolate icecream facial (!), we'd just had a long walk in the park, it was a lovely day, and we were laughing and having fun together. It was beautiful. It was life in the present moment: at that moment, I didn't want to be anywhere else or be doing anything else with anyone else. It was enough to be sitting there, feeling the sun on my face, listening to my daughter's chatter and laughter, and knowing that God was in the love that we share. I was so happy to be there with her, and it made me realise that simplicity is being present, being open to the little gifts God gives through life.

Maybe I'm a little slow on the uptake for this one, but it hit me with all the force of a revelation on Friday. We Tertiaries are vowed to simplicity, not poverty, and I think that Friday was the first time I've really begun to understand the difference. Simplicity is a state of heart, a state of mind; poverty is more of a state of pocket - also a state of mind, but poverty has more emphasis on having nothing rather than accepting the goodness of life's gifts. Simplicity is loving everything and owning nothing - in the sense that nothing owns me or possesses my heart. It's a harder proposition when one considers simplicity about people, but it's also not owning them either. Much harder to do!

I think it might be bedtime - I always start to pontificate a bit when I'm tired!

Pachyderm tssf

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