Simple Gifts

2014-06-07 17.12.30By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of their Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog. You can see more of her writing Photo by Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin.

Teacher of Simplicity, who lifts us as we let go,
Use this silence to focus our intention on each breath. Empty us of what is no longer useful and fill us with unique energies that bring healing to our world. Show us the ways we overextend ourselves taking on more than we can manage. Guide us in living more simply, releasing everything we hold too tightly so that we can carry more compassion. Send us floating through this day reminded that each moment has it’s own wholeness. Amen
Janet Salbert

Janet’s prayer struck a cord in me—a needed reminder.

I am drawn to simplicity, whether it’s my workout, religion, dress, or spiritual disciplines, but life still gets complicated. So I need to keep coming back to home base, keep releasing everything I hold too tightly.

When I allow life to get complicated and extravagant I lose touch with God. All the other Stuff gets piled on top of the Holy One and I start to miss my connection. I am set adrift and need to find my anchor again.

My Honey had his birthday a couple of weekends ago. I was reminded of the tension between extravagance and simplicity in preparation for his celebration. How much does one do to make the day special?

When the kids were young we focused on what we called Simple Gifts. I found an old coupon from my daughter the other day for “1 free room cleaning” written in her 5th-grade hand. Other gifts we exchanged were back rubs, hand rubs, extra dessert, a coupon to “skip a chore,” etc. These were beloved gifts, ones of time and energy, but very limited monetary value.

What I came up with for his birthday was a mixture of a couple presents and deeds, because what I realized was that what’s really important on a birthday is that the person feels especially loved. Ends up that his favorite gift was the whole morning we set aside and just talked and ate a leisurely breakfast on the porch. It was the simple gift where he could feel the love and the connection.

I think that’s how it is with God too. We don’t need anything fancy, we just need to show up with an open heart. God’s ready to hand out those simple gifts!

June 06, 2014 by Shalem Institute 4 Comments
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9 years ago

Thanks for the gentle reminder.

9 years ago

This is indeed a beautiful article. Gently written and with a passion for beauty. Blessings on your ministry. I always enjoy your blog and receive help which I can share with others in my ministry of Spiritual Direction. Joan fcJ (Australia)

9 years ago
Reply to  Joan

Thank you, Joan. I am so glad it was helpful. Blessings on your ministry!

9 years ago

Thank you for your article. I too like the simple life. I don’t like how people are always in such a hurry. I use to ride my bike on a bike trail that I often was on until one day God told me to get off my bike and stat walking. He truly blessed me with so many gifts by my just walking and seeing with my eyes where God was on this bike trail. Peace. Sophie


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