Simple Gifts


Simple Gifts

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free.
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shall not be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Till by turning, turning we come round right.

The Shakers were/are an interesting protestant contemplative/mystical order. They maintained celibacy for all members and gained members only by recruitment. Presently there is a small community of Shakers living at the ancient residence of Sabbathday Lake in Maine.

Theologically they were terribly wrong about a great many things, unless you slant and nuance them just right. But this song encapsulates a truth that can resonate through Christianity regardless of the denomination.

This page will tell you far more than you might ever care to know about the Simplicity of God. But let us just accept for the moment that God is simple, of single substance, indivisible, whole, and uniate. Then, it would seem, to best mirror Him, we should be likewise. We should not live with a divided heart. All that we have and all that we are should reflect God's glory.

But the reality is that we are a divided people. Our hearts rest only when they rest in God, and for most of us that means that our hearts rest only momentarily before skipping on to other concerns. God is a strong presence in our lives, but for many of us, the slightest breath of discontent or of pleasure, and God is wiped out of all consideration--suddenly we are on our own.

Jesus tells us, "Where your heart is, there your treasure shall be." He teaches simplicity, "You cannot serve God and Mammon." But we do not practice it. And we do not practice it because we convince ourselves that it isn't true. That we can do both--we are superpeople, capable of conquering the world and subduing it and rendering right sacrifice and duty to God.

For those who really think this, a newsflash--"We are more than conquerers through Him. . ." not through our own efforts, not through what we do, but through what He IS.

So, throughout the day, I find myself singing this song and recalling that indeed, it is a gift, perhaps in our language a Grace, to be simple. And in being simple, we become free. For the only freedom lies in service to God and to our fellow man.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 11, 2003 7:45 AM.

In Memoriam was the previous entry in this blog.

A Depressing Document in the History of Religion is the next entry in this blog.

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