Many years ago, I read a book by Sarah Ban Breathnach called Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy, and absolutely loved it. It was a time in my life when I felt like I didn’t have very much, but desired desperately to feel abundant. In times of economic uncertainty, we are all feeling those pangs of desire for both simplicity and abundance, I’m sure.
Over the course of mothering my four children, I have found that simplicity actually creates a sacred space for abundance to flourish. I have not had any credit cards since 2000, I don’t have a cell phone or laptop computer, I own a modest TV which is only used for an occasional movie rental (and doesn’t even work for television), and I have gone without a microwave for at least six years. By refraining from some things people nowadays consider “basic”, I have experienced the “comfort and joy” in not having these modern day conveniences. In the simplicity of my lifestyle, it has been easier for me to remember and connect with the things that are truly important to me.
Living without a television in my child-filled home isn’t as difficult as people might think. “What do your kids do?” people wonder. They play, read, go outside, or do nothing at all. To watch a child be in the nothing at all space can be uncomfortable for adults who are so used to doing, doing, doing in the name of productivity. Yet, it’s in the nothingness that all things are born. With the simplicity of space and imagination the world is infinitely abundant in the hearts of children at play.
What would you do with your time – for relaxation, play or entertainment – if it wasn’t being filled with something that isn’t truly important to you? How does it feel to you to do nothing at all?
Although I may not be able to find a pay phone when I need one, I have found the generosity of strangers instead. Inevitably when I walk into a store, library or other venue and ask, “Is there a pay phone around here?” the person behind the counter offers me his or her cell phone to use. In this way, I have made more than the connection I was originally seeking.
What ways do you most enjoy connecting with others? What would it be like to experience dis-connection for a day or more? Who do you connect with in your life?
Taking the time to cook our family meals takes no more time than using a microwave. I always found it odd to see the directions for “Microwave Use” vs. “Stovetop” to be only a matter of tiny minutes. The taste (not to mention conservation of nutrients) is worth the wait; it allows time for my children to help set the table before our family sits around it, blesses our food and eats together.
What would it be like to slow down and savor your life? Who would you spend time with? What do you bless every day?
In this time of rapid change and uncertainty, we yearn for stability; it’s a natural response. If we remember that true stability is offered by a good foundation, we can begin to evaluate, and perhaps rebuild, the foundation of our lives with things that are most important to us. Whatever we add to the foundation is up to each of us, of course. In my own experience, keeping things simple (by not adding too much) has kept me closer to my foundation – my family – which allows me to feel both its stability as well as its abundance.
What’s most important to you in your life? What do you want to build on that foundation, and will it bear the weight of what you are adding? Is there anything you can do to create more stability, or do you notice that it is already strong and abundant?