When life is that complicated, it’s difficult to stay on top of everything. When one thing falls out of balance, a cascading effect often hurts everything else going on, and that is just what happened in my life last spring. In the midst of the various life complications that I was sorting through, a family member suddenly died. As I sat in my deep shock and grief, it became blatantly clear to me that my life could not go on as it was. I needed Simplicity.
Grief changes us in so many unspoken ways. For me, it has a way of cutting through my life, helping me find what is necessary, and what can give way to allow me time to breathe. Much as I love my work for the Order, during this particular time of grief, what needed to give way was that work. I still met with my accountability group, I still talked with other leaders, working through my grief in conversation. But, I was completely incapable of doing the administrative work that I usually do to help the Order stay on top of things, like this blog.
There is a deep irony here: to learn how to keep my vow of Simplicity, I had to step back from the organization that held me accountable to that vow. That stepping back was only temporary, but it still happened. In my grief, I re-formed myself, and re-formed my life, finding a greater simplicity that I didn’t know I needed. I don’t know that I have done a great job of keeping this simplicity in my life since then, but it serves as a reminder, and a call on my life to journey towards this simplicity.
This simplicity isn’t quite what we had in mind when we wrote down our vows... we, or at least, I was thinking more on the lines of lessening the hold that materialism has on our lives, and having fewer things so that we have less of an environmental impact. But, simplicity is not quite that simple. It is having fewer things, but is also having fewer commitments in our lives, and so much more. It is not a checklist of things to get rid of, but a radically different worldview of resistance to the never-ending complications of today’s society. It is a difficult call, one that I must confess I forget, forsake, and fall short of on a daily basis. But in writing this, I have revisited the simplicity that my grief called me to last spring. That simplicity calls me still, and today I will renew and reaffirm that call on my life. Better than never, I suppose.
-Hope Bentley Hutchison is the Organizational Specialist for the Order. She is currently finishing the last year of her M.Div/MTS degree at MTSO while pursuing ordination as a deacon in the Minnesota Conference of the UMC, working at Seminary Hill Farm on the campus of MTSO, and enjoying being a newlywed.