I rejoice each morning in the delight of electricity. My wiser sister praises our abundance of clean water.
At all funerals, it seems, the current anthem is “Amazing Grace,” as it once was “Taps.” Although the tune is nice, the words are baffling. Who among listeners really believes they are a “wretch,” once lost.
If picking one spiritual song from America’s vast storehouse, I would choose “’Tis a Gift to be Simple.” That one I can relate to. Being simple, appreciating life as it is without dreaming of more, accepting fate rather than cursing it for victimizing our hope. A gift nourished by monks, peasants, and plain old folks throughout the ages.
Even in our consumer colossus holiday madness, being simple provides a streak of sanity. Enjoying a flurry of snowflakes, a crescent moon dimmed by high ice particles, noisy geese resting on a frozen pond _ this has always been available in Northern winter, as other joys are freely available elsewhere and elsewhen.
Not long ago were times even in affluent countries when mercenary gifts were hard to afford, when a season of gifts was truly special because wants throughout the year were often unfulfilled. Not far away, there are people who still do not enjoy such wealth.
Colors are magic, I am fortunate not to be blind nor unable to tell red from green.
Simplicity requires elimination of envy. Our great gift is consciousness. If we also possess health there is little more required. Of course, somebody will always have more of something or other. Our gift should encompass not wishing to be that person, but to appreciate yourself.
In this frenetic world, simplicity is difficult. Electronic needs wrap us, there is always something which must be done. I am no Luddite _ work and ambition are necessary and good in moderation. Moderation is hard to come by.
Who has the time to notice anything? Even simple meditation _ there is an app for that! Staring at a rose for a minute or more seems a complete waste. So much to do, so much to acquire, so much to wish for.
Maybe not too simple _ flash and dazzle have their place in fending off winter darkness.
Tin Pan Alley, in the thirties Depression, produced numerous tunes of happy poverty _ “The moon belongs to everyone/the best things in life are free”, “the best things in life to you were just loaned,” and so on. Many folks had to be content with the moon, dreams of cherries, and stale bread with their thin soup.
Poverty, illness, war, crime _ there are genuine terrible things that happen to many. But there remain complex simple gifts _ beauty, love, hope, the sheer exhilaration of waking up sane. As we rush to avoid poverty or to stave off inevitable mortality, we should occasionally pause and become simple. Without worry, without envy, without even hope _ simply a free spirit in a complicated and marvelous dance of existence.