Tag Archives: plain living

Holy Silence and Candy Crush

One of my New Year’s Not-Exactly-Resolutions this year was to work on building quiet into my daily schedule.  Focused quiet, where I’m meditating on a Scripture or inspiring thought, maybe praying, maybe listening, maybe all of the above, but definitely being quiet.  I still think that’s important, but I have a feeling I should expand my original goal a little.

As I write, my daughter is upstairs in her room writing another chapter of her modern twist on a fairy tale.  (The last time I checked in, the princess was rescuing the prince and wasn’t sure if she actually wanted to go out with him at all.)  My son is lying on the couch icing his knee from an injury he got at Boy Scouts this morning, and reading J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Two Towers.”  I’ve been drinking a cup of tea and enjoying a rare non-working Saturday afternoon at home.  I’ve been alternately catching up on a favorite blog and playing Candy Crush, which isn’t your standard Bible study fare.

It’s not thought-provoking Biblical exegesis or anything like it.  The blog I’m reading makes me laugh and think, but it’s not like I’m plowing through Spurgeon’s sermons or a commentary on the Petrine epistles.  I’m not praying (other than a quick word sent upward if something pops up in my news feed that I think God should have a little friendly reminder about).  I’m not searching my soul, but I really could use another one of those striped/wrapped candy combos, because this level is kicking my butt.

Is this what the Friends tradition would generally consider “holy silence”, that quiet stillness that centers on listening for the voice of God?  Nope.  Do I need it?  Heck yeah.

I can’t even remember the last non-midnight time that both children were quiet, I wasn’t answering work emails, and there was no music playing or Netflix running somewhere in the house.  Earlier this afternoon I sat at my kitchen table, looked out at the soft grey sky and occasional raindrops, wrapped both hands (both! the other hand wasn’t taking notes or clicking a mouse or pushing buttons on the washing machine!) around my mug of tea, and … did nothing.  NOTHING.  I looked out the window and noticed that there’s kind of a neat reflection of the porch railing across the wet boards of the porch floor, and heard my kitchen clock ticking, and enjoyed my warm tea, and that was it.

Maybe it’s not REAL study time, with notebooks and interlinear translations and highlighters.  But I think God lives in those quiet, domestic moments, and I’m going to see about finding a few more of them.

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Simplicity Is Confusing

plain

Word Origin and History:  c.1300, “flat, smooth,” from O.Fr. plain, from L. planus “flat, even, level” (see plane (1)). Sense of “evident” is from, c.1300; meaning “simple, sincere, ordinary” is recorded from late 14c. In reference to the dress and speech of Quakers, it is recorded from 1827; of Amish

Thank you, dictionary.com.  But what that means in everyday life for a person seeking a Plain lifestyle, the simplicity that is a discipline of its own, turns out to be surprisingly complicated.  Some women consider themselves “plain”, as evidenced by low-maintenance hairstyles, unadorned clothing, and minimal jewelry or makeup.  Other women take plenty of time with their hair, wear makeup, and LOVE them a pair of cute shoes – and still are wholeheartedly living their version of a “plain” lifestyle.

As seen through the lens of my conservative Baptist upbringing, this is disconcerting to say the least.  My childhood was less rulebound than many of my peers in our denomination – I wasn’t allowed go to school dances, get my ears double-pierced, or say “darn” or “gosh”.  But I knew girls who weren’t allowed to wear pants EVER, get their ears pierced until they were eighteen, or have their hair cut short.  Rules were part of life, and they provided a certain structure, even though we (like every other kid our age) pushed against them.  There is still a part of me that wants to know, “What are the rules?  Where’s the checklist?  Can I read your theological statement?”

But now, I find that this “testimony of simplicity” is freeing in its lack of definition.  Maybe for the Quaker woman with the red lipstick and the blonde highlights, simplicity means homemade food and an ordered morning routine. Maybe for the lady with the tied-back hair and the practical shoes, simplicity has everything to do with how she attires herself and nothing to do with the fact that she owns every Katharine Hepburn movie ever made.

Maybe for every person who finds peace in a floor-to-ceiling bookcase full of well-loved books, there is another who puts their entire library onto their Kindle and breathes a sigh of contentment at the blissfully empty walls.

I have no idea what plain living will look like for me.  I can’t wait to find out.