I’m going to post a few segments from one of my favorite authors, Tilden Edwards, from his book Living Simply Through the Day. This particular excerpt compares two views of reality: one which is completely unified by the experience of the Holy in all things, and the other way which is splintered and endlessly desperate.
“…A balanced rhythm of human activity: working, corporate worship, individual study and prayer, recreation, eating, sleeping; time alone and time together, time to be silent and time to speak; a time and place for everything. These are not seen as unconnected fragments of a day. Rather, they are different aspects of a single reality; different doors for the same divine energy; different opportunities for realizing simple presence. They are connected by the single thread of divine grace out of which everything flows.
No part of the day then is more ‘special’ than any other part. No activity is more holy than any other. There is nothing to anxiously look forward to, and nothing ultimately to fear. The whole day is a varied screen through which the same Light filters. Such awareness enormously simplifies and unifies the day.
The simple day stands in stark contrast to the pressures of our society. Balance is not supported. ‘Settling’ time particularly is neglected: time to be still alone and together, time to simply ‘be.’ There is a crazy oscillation between mindless work and mindless play, between one driving impulse and another. The day is a kaleidoscope of bits and pieces connected by nothing, revealing no real common ground. The result is a kind of personal and societal fragmentation, a pathless, complex jungle that leaves so many people insecure, angry, frightened, confused, and easy prey for the first simplistic savior that comes along.
Yet we must find our way in the midst of this society that in the main does not support or understand simplicity. To the degree that religious institutions lose themselves in our society’s confusions, they lose their own way and cannot help us either. But simplicity is always there. It cannot be lost, only hidden. In the cracks of our cultural fabric today its presence continues to creep through.” (43)
For those of us longing to simplify our inner (and outer!) world, Edwards’ words are grounding and compelling. Remembering that “no activity is more holy than any other” and “the whole day is a varied screen through which the same Light filters,” encourages me to clean the lens of my eyes, which have become dark with the dust of familiarity, and be stunned once again with God in this moment, whatever that moment may be.
It often takes time and practice to simplify our lives in this way. In next few posts, we’ll look at some of Edwards’ suggestions for simplifying our day that helps us to embody this idea, rather than keeping it at an intellectual level. These exercises include: waking, breathing, physical postures, and movement. In the meantime, I invite you to pay attention to the way you move through your day. Do you flow from one thing to another with a deep sense of connection to the divine within and without, or are your days more characterized by a “crazy oscillation between mindless work and mindless play”? Maybe somewhere in between?