Discerning Radical Simplicity
By Stephen Donahoe of Washington, D.C., USA
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. -Matthew 4:1-2 NRSV
We are often asked to serve in ways that challenge us at just the right moment. This is one of those moments. I am writing about radical simplicity at a time when I am struggling to discern this for myself.
My job is fundraising for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, an organization that works for peace, justice, and environmental stewardship. Donors to the organization have taught me a great deal about radical simplicity. I visit many people who make significant sacrifices in order to financially support our work. An elderly woman named Marian stands out especially as an inspiration. She had no car and grew much of her own food. Even though she lived below the poverty line, every time she saved $1,000, she would send it to our organization to further the mission of peace and justice.
I also meet people who make different choices about simplicity and generosity. We are called to live as simply as we can and respond to the world’s needs as generously as we can at that moment. The spirit of love and compassion that unites us all as a global family continually calls us to do more.
That same spirit calls us to work toward advocating for policies that promote justice for people and the planet. Following Christ means standing up for the most vulnerable among us in any way we can.
Living simply is not just about using less resources; it is about working to change the systems that oppress people and our planet. As we turn inward to contemplate how we are called to change our own behaviors, let us also seek to discern the collective actions we can take as a faith community to change these systems.
God, may my deep hope align with your deep vision. Release in me anything that keeps me from freely following your Spirit. Amen.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Breathe deeply as you enter a time of silence. Become gently attentive to what may be restricting you from faithfully responding to the divine invitation in your life. Are there priorities, attachments, tasks, or motivations competing for your response? What does freedom for God look or feel like in you this day?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.