July 2011

For years I have tried to live out a simple life. To shake off the unnecessary, the excess. To sift through the stuff, to purge. This is a daily challenge, I have found. The journey of a lifetime. Often I have strayed off the narrow path of enough onto the paved highway of too much.

What is becoming clearer to me, is that there is more to a simple life than the making of one. That the process of reduction is not the life itself. There is a beyond.

Because after the simplifying, the sifting, the making smaller … there is something left. There is that which was deemed important and valuable and necessary. And the step beyond, the beauty of simplicity, the living of the simple life … is the caring for that which has been kept.

What is left is named treasure and the care of it is what makes a life.

My task is to simplify and then go deeper, making a commitment to what remains. That’s what I’ve been after. To care and polish what remains until it glows and comes alive with loving care. -Sue Bender, Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish

A commitment to what remains. Polishing what remains until it glows and comes alive with loving care. This is the living out of the simple life. This is, simply, life.

It is a mile that I walk, usually, in the morning if it is clear and then again in the evening if I am not too pooped. Down the dirt road I call mine, between the fields planted, to the forgotten power pole that marks a half mile, and then back. Feet finding their way through ruts formed by heavy farm equipment after the last rain. Feet stepping alongside the footprints of mamma deer and her baby. My husband, on the weekend when he walks with me, points the tracks out. His experienced eyes find the footprints of coyote and other animals who have travelled the road to drink at our dugout.

In mid summer, the birds complain at me as I walk. Frogs chatter to each other at the dugout and grasshoppers dive out of the way of my steps. The crop, slow because of all the spring rain, is coming in. Small animals rustle, hidden along the way.

This is my morning journey. Walking for health that isn’t only physical. For the slowing down, the calming of spirit, prayer. For focusing on the important, for valuing the day to come and asking for help in the living of it.

It is a small journey, away from my home and then back again. The walking away and the return. The metaphor is not lost on me. My life speaks to its truth. That all of my journeys have brought me, in some way, back home.

It is a small journey, but treasured.

Mathematically, he’s five times nine. He has been a husband for forty percent of his life and dad for a wee bit more than a third of his life, but I don’t know if he will ever really grow up!

Happy birthday, Lyndon, from Tyson, Colton, Carter, and me. We love you!

Yesterday we took our middle son to camp. On the way, we stopped for the morning church service in Weyburn, the little Saskatchewan town in which I was born. I grew up in this church. I mean, we went to church three times a week, so, literally, I grew up in this church!

Our family moved away from Weyburn when I was twelve, but I returned for two years of boarding school at Western Christian College, and then lived in Weyburn again for three years when my children were small and Lyndon was beginning his lineman career. Carter was born in Weyburn, in the same hospital as I.

This prairie town and this little church have played a huge role in my life. It always gives me a strange feeling to return. Ghosts, you know. Memories.

Walking into church yesterday, a bright sunny summer day, I felt like I was six years old, holding my dad’s hand, wearing a pink dress made by mom, with my sister wearing a matching blue one. The church is almost exactly the same as it was when I was little. I could almost see my friends and me sitting in the classrooms, being taught by Mrs. Fleming or Mrs. Pennington. The boys – Alan and Randy and Lowell and the others – disrupting the class with their antics. The girls – Darla and Sharon and our friends – trying to ignore the boys and answering the teacher’s questions primly and properly.

I sat in the sanctuary with my family of boys and I thought of all the times my sisters and I had sat in these same pews. Drawing pictures, writing notes to our friends, listening to the sermons of so many men, directed in congregational singing by Mr. Willett, sharing communion, praying … we knew when Mr. so-and-so got up to lead the closing prayer, we were going to be awhile.

It was beautiful to see Nina Willett sitting in her same pew, and to see my childhood friends Darla and Sharon still there, to see Mr. Olson standing at the front, to sit behind Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin, and to look around at the many faces from my childhood. Older, but so precious. And to remember the ones no longer there. Too many to name. Gone, but just as precious in memory.

I have spent many Sunday mornings in many different churches over the years. It was sweet to spend yesterday morning in Weyburn, worshipping with old friends and memories.

It is Vacation Bible School week here and we have a houseful of guests. We decided to have a wiener roast on Sunday night to kick off the week. Here is my sweetie gathering firewood in his own unique and special way.

I was sitting in church yesterday morning and I was watching the families with young children and I thought, church would be better with snacks. I think we’d all have a better Sunday morning experience we could just sit beside grandmothers who had little containers of snacks in their purses. But not cheerios or boxes of raisins. Good snacks. Like chocolate covered almonds or something. And instead of sippy cups, little cups of chai tea, maybe. Mmmm.

So this is what I was thinking during the sermon, which was on prayer by the way. I can think about snacks and listen to the sermon at the same time. Actually, I am a mom which means I can think about snacks and find a pen in my purse for my son to draw with and remind myself to take bread out of the freezer when I get home and listen to the sermon at the same time. It was a good sermon. About prayer. And the kingdom of God. And that verse, Matthew 7:7, which says: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

It was a good sermon. But if there had been snacks, it would have been awesome.

A short post, I know. But there are a bunch of extra teenagers here (I love them!) and I have to make sure there are twenty bag lunches ready to go and our Vacation Bible School starts this morning and my husband has left for his week away at work, so …

Snacks. Think about it.

It is fun to watch the boys trying to teach their dad something. Whether how to use a piece of electronic equipment, or a new guitar chord, or skateboarding … I get a kick out of the process. Because they are all men and men do these things in different and interesting ways. And there is a lot of competition involved. But I love that Dad allows himself to be the student from time to time.

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