Suddenly, we all have more time for reflection. Quakers are familiar with taking time in silence for reflection; it’s what we do! Now we are joined by legions around the globe. Schedules are falling away as we retreat into our homes and living spaces. This strikes me as an opportunity to settle deeply within and ask: what is truly important in my life? What do I wish my life to stand for now?
As societies, we are asking what is an essential service? I am grateful to all the people who are continuing to provide essential services so we can live. We are having to look at how we have structured our lives, our businesses and organizations, our communities, our societies. We are learning how inter-connected we all are with each other and all things.
My sense is our lives have been interrupted so that we might create a new life, one that is simpler, more balanced, and more in harmony with nature and others. My guess is that, deep down, we have all known our old ways could not go on.
I have always found the Quaker Testimony of Simplicity to be helpful when I consider what is truly essential in my life.
(This is the seventh in a series of 12 monthly queries developed by Pacific Yearly Meeting. All monthly queries are on this website under the All About Quakers tab in the main menu.)
Life is meant to be lived from a Center, a divine Center . . . a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It takes no time, but occupies all our time. Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion, 1941
A life centered in God will be directed toward keeping communication with God open and unencumbered. Simplicity is best achieved through a right ordering of priorities, maintaining humility of spirit, avoiding self-indulgence, resisting the accumulation of unnecessary possessions, and avoiding over-busy lives.
Elise Boulding writes in My Part in the Quaker Adventure, “Simplicity, beauty, and happiness go together if they are a by-product of a concern for something more important than ourselves.”
Do I center my life in an awareness of God’s presence so that all things take their rightful place?
Do I live simply and promote right sharing of the world’s bounty?
Do I keep my life uncluttered with things and activities, avoiding commitments beyond my strength and light?
How do I maintain simplicity, moderation, and honesty in my speech, my manner of living, and my daily work?
Do I recognize when I have enough?
Is the life of the Meeting so organized that it helps us to simplify our lives?
Friends, I’m holding us all in the Light as we move through this challenging passage into new ways of being with each other and in the world. We all have Light within us and gifts to give, and we all need the gifts others have to share. May you shine your Light and encourage others, as your equals, to shine theirs. May you receive with gratitude and graciousness. May you take time to nourish yourself and your family, to play, to exercise, and to rest. Envision what can be possible, and then put feet and hands to it! Your life is your example, your greatest testimony.
Rhonda Ashurst, Blog Contributor, Reno Friends Meeting
The opinions expressed above are not necessarily those of Reno Friends Meeting.