Tuesday, May 17, 2016 – Reflections about Simplicity

Carol A. Hand

For the first time I can remember, I awake to a sunny but silent morning. My heart aches with both tender sadness and gratitude for all those who have shared this journey with me. I think of the words I read before falling asleep.

Hold to these principles:
Seek simplicity,
Grasp the essential,
Overcome selfishness
And wasteful desires.
(Lao-Tzu, as interpreted by Diane Dreher, 1990, The Tao of Inner Peace, p. 77)

I remember the song – Simple Gifts, performed by Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Kraus – that I heard a few days ago on public radio, the classical station my birds (now only Queenie) listen to during the day. Like the Tao saying above, I see it as a universal message shared by people from many different cultures and spiritual paths.

Simple gifts – Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Kraus

Simple Gifts was written by Elder Joseph Brackett in 1848 while he was at the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine. These are the lyrics to Brackett’s one-verse song:

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

(Source: Wikipedia)

I don’t know if I will ever really achieve simplicity, but I have the luxury now to keep working on uncluttering my thoughts from distractions and my life from unnecessary things. Awakening to morning silence today gives me a moment to remember what is important in life. From this simple life, this humble home, I send out loving, healing thoughts from a heart that has been tempered by both song and silence, and grief and joy.


Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

40 thoughts on “Tuesday, May 17, 2016 – Reflections about Simplicity

  1. “From this simple life, this humble home, I send out loving, healing thoughts from a heart that has been tempered by both song and silence, and grief and joy.”
    ~ Thanks, Carol. I think we’ve reached the age where seeking a simple life is possible.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. You may be right about reaching an age when we’re able to simplify our lives, Rosaliene. Yet some days I do miss the passion I used to feel when I took on challenging roles that allowed me to work as a liberatory praxis advocate.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cycles. Through the course of our life/lives, we will continue to move towards and away from simplicity, according to the conditions/times. I think all states are valid and wherever we sit right now, we can expect to hear the call of it’s opposite and know that we will be in that place soon enough. The resting times seem to be best served by simplicity, however, wherever we are, whatever point in time, if we can allow all possibilities to exist simultaneously… that! That is how I understand freedom – for myself.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Jambo Robyn. I agree that there are cycles and seasons in our lives. I’m reminded of a different song – “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to everything there is a season)” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbPl91kTFro. At this moment, I have the luxury of silence and contemplation, but I recognize that that can change in an instant. What I’m able to learn now may well be essential in times to come. Such has been the case in my almost seven decades thus far.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Yes! Great song. I forgot to thank you for your post by the way, very inspiring. It’s a blessing to have access to such wisdom, right here and free on the internet. In gratitude, Robyn

          Liked by 1 person

  2. This went directly to my heart. Not sure if it is because I’m reading Pema Chodron’s book “When things fall apart” or because my wider exploration of compassion and acceptance of life as it is but we seem to be in similar journeys.
    What you just did is called “bodhicitta”: a practice of taking in all the pain and hurt in the world, a sense of immense compassion for all beings while understanding we are not really separated or attached to anything in particular (stuff, ego, etc.)…
    All the beings we meet in this journey have always been here and will always be. They (like us) just take different shapes through the incredible web of life that transforms it all. My friends Jack (who we rescue as he couldn’t fly) and Rigoberto (who we adopted from an animal shelter) are both buried on our small patio. The two spots have given us the most beautiful flowers, that’s how I know they didn’t leave us…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing such deep and crucial insights with such heart-felt eloquence, Silvia. New life blossoms from the essence of those who have gone before – a profound and beautiful metaphor. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Quakers sometimes sing an alternative version of this hymn:

    ‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
    ‘Tis a gift to come round to where we ought to be,
    With your old leather britches and your shaggy, shaggy locks
    You are tearing down the pillars of the world George Fox (founder of the Quaker movement)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a wonderful message, Carol. Lao-Tzu words, and the song express my thoughts too. Great post to read first thing in the morning 🙂 My life is very simple too, and I am sending you love. Thank you for your kind words.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yo-Yo Ma´s song and Lao Tzu´s poem are both beautiful… to seek simplicity is a great motto… It could be related to the well known “Carpe Diem”, somewhow…
    Great post, dear Carol… Love & best wishes!. Aquileana 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, Aquileana. Yes, simplicity is certainly one way “to make the most of the present” without worrying about the future. And perhaps, in the long run, the wisest. Love and blessings to you, too ❤


  6. This resonates so much in my thinking. We can all aspire to a simple life. We have to move in stages I think, slowly deconditioning our minds. Now livinging a more rual life I am finding mine looking to simply more, in this modern society it is increasingly hard.

    And I love the tune ‘Dance dance where ever you may be’ fantastic

    But this passage is something I want to print and put up in my bathroom,:thanks again Carol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, A Momma’s View, and for noticing the header photo 🙂 . It is Hawaii – it’s a photo of the view from a place where my daughter I stayed on the ocean in Lahaina, Maui in 1998.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a beautiful calming post. Simplicity! How obvious, how easy but don’t we tend to complicate our lives, our thoughts. This tune was one of my favourites as a child – although I am sure we sung different words. Love these lyrics though.

    Liked by 1 person

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