Saturday, July 23, 2011

Musing on the Reading -- Simplify! Simplify!

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. - Mark 6:6b-13

"Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify!" - Henry David Thoreau

One thing that is often heard in churches where there is turmoil or discord is the injunction to "shake the dust from your shoes and move on." The implication is that struggle is not an acceptable way for a church to be; all should be sweetness and light. Unfortunately, without some struggle, no growth takes place. Sometimes, however, growth does take time, patience and sometimes distance.

Jesus understood this. He gave his disciples instructions on being good guests, but also knowing when to leave. He also instructed them to travel lightly, trusting God and the people of the place they would visit to extend hospitality to them. Still, to take more than necessary would be not only disobedient and lacking in faith but also costly. Why take stuff that would have to be jettisoned if they had to make a quick getaway? Simplicity was the best solution, simplicity and faith.

Looking at my house, I see a lot of dear things that give me great pleasure, but I also see things that accumulate dust (and cat hair). Part of me screams to hang on to what I have because as soon as I let go of it I will have need of it or will feel keenly yet another loss of something precious. The other part of me urges me to shed unnecessary things and enjoy a simpler life.

Sometimes shaking the dust off my Birks is a way of encouraging my own growth. Whether it's leaving a church that feels like it has somehow lost its way or acknowleging that "stuff" is getting in the way of my own growth and serenity, the trick is to travel lightly and simply, that and knowing that if the tiger appears, I'd best be light on my feet and I can't do that with a lot of extraneous baggage.

Simplify, simplify, simplify. You never know when the tiger is going to show up.... or you need to get out of town in a hurry.

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