Keep It Simple
Simplicity consists not in the use of particular forms but in avoiding self-indulgence, in maintaining humility of spirit, and in keeping the material surroundings of our lives directly serviceable to necessary ends. This does not mean that life need be poor and bare or destitute of joy and beauty.
(The Southeastern Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice 4th edition, 2013, page 60)
Simplicity is the first of the Quaker Testimonies following the anacronym of SPICES (Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, Stewardship of the Earth).
In olden days the Quakers would practice “plain dress” by keeping their clothes simple and free of extravagance. The idea was to not put on airs by showing how rich you were by wearing fancy clothes. This also tied in with the Testimony of Equality, in that no one was thought to be better or worse, higher or lower, than anyone else. If everyone dressed “plainly” there would be no judgement or comparison regarding social status.
This was but an outward expression of Simplicity. A more Spiritual manifestation of the Testimony was practiced in how the Quakers worshiped. To sit in Silence, “waiting upon the Lord” was a very simple way to communicate with the Spirit within. There were no songs, sermons or sacraments. There were no golden robes, chalices, crucifixes or special candles. Quakers believe in direct connection between a person and Spirit within, no intermediaries needed. How simple is that?
Another expression of Simplicity is mental. The idea that a quiet mind, unperturbed by the comings and goings of the world, unencumbered by fears and anxieties, but trusting in Spirit to lead the way, is another way in which Simplicity plays out in our lives. It is not that Quakers are not concerned about what happens in the world, quite the contrary. But these concerns are “held in the Light” and we listen for Spirit’s advice on how we can individually and collectively act upon these concerns. More often than not, the best solution is the simplest one.
Simplicity can be applied to many areas of our life. How we eat, work, play and interact with people can be attended to with Simplicity. How we keep our home, our living space, simple and clean – uncluttered. The best thing about working with the Testimony of Simplicity is that it leads us away from complications. The world today is so intricate, complex and complicated, many find it difficult to navigate through it day-by-day. When we learn to focus on living our lives in Simplicity, it is much easier to deal with the problems and challenges that we face.
It can be as simple as letting Spirt lead you through the seconds, minutes, hours and years of life. Sit with the Silence, learn to meditate and calm your mind.
presented by John Palozzi
The Palm Beach Quaker Meeting invites you to share Silent Worship with us in a Spirit-filled space that has welcomed worshippers since 1958, regardless of race, gender identity, or nationality.