Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Back to Basics

At some point most of us have assumed that a simplistic life is forced on others, not chosen. I know I did. Even worse, I thought that those with a collection of things—a large house, luxury cars, name-brand suits, and matching accessories—were the ones who had what I should seek. They represented the freedom of purchasing power and I believed that equated to success. In my adolescent mind, those without had to live without. I never considered that they elected to have less in order to gain more. 

I recently spent a few hours at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, and it was an inspiring experience. The architecture and landscaping was stunning. Combined with seclusion, fresh air, and a gorgeous blue sky, it was hard not to feel at peace. It wasn’t long before I fully understood why monks opted to live a simple life. After letting go of the notion that simplicity isn’t always the equivalent of plain, backward, or ordinary, I saw their lives in their entirety. The simplistic lifestyle of a monk represented all of the ‘things’ I now strive for—purity, honesty, clarity, and peace.

Those with the wisdom to commit to a disciplined, contemplative life of community, service, and solitude gift themselves with the life that most of us reserve for special occasions. We plan elaborate vacations and sabbaticals to take a break from the trappings associated with the life that we claim to want. What if we could live in the same level of renewal and peace that we only occasionally think is important? What if we lived our lives with a constant focus on inner peace? What would we usher into our every day? Fulfillment? Freedom? Peace? While I'm not ready to become a monk I certainly understand the allure. After just a few hours observing their lifestyle and witnessing the light in their eyes, I have a deeper understanding of their motivation and a renewed desire to acquire less by becoming more.

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