Book Review: Simple Living

For many years now, I’ve been on a journey of trying to live with less and reduce my consumption footprint on the world. At times, I’ve tried too hard, ultimately giving myself more work to do than I can and making everyone around me mad. Other times, I once again get caught up in wanting to at least be able to relate to the Joneses and start to fill soul-voids with things. Mostly, I try to find a good balance between minimalism, simple living, and the life I actually have.

I’m not sure where I picked up the book Simple Living. (This seems to be a theme… I see something in a free pile or on a clearance shelf and grab it thinking I’ll get to it one day.) After a couple of heavier books and in the middle of a couple of deep books, I thought Simple Living would be a good option to take while on retreat in my favorite mountain home away from home. I was not disappointed.

Simple Living shares the account of one couple’s move from LA to the family orchard in the mountains of Virginia. In fact, Levering Orchard is still in operation today! While I anticipated the joy of reading the biographical sort of “back to the earth” stories I appreciate, I was surprised at the frequent mentions of places I know – Mt. Airy (where one of my kids is heading for a sporting event soon), Fancy Gap (where we often drive through when traveling to visit family or when we went to some short tracks up that way), Greensboro, and Winston-Salem (where we are frequently for some family appointments). Even more unexpected was the connection to my own United Methodist Church; a small and yet important connection in the traditions of a family story where faith played an important part in shaping their simple lifestyle.

As I read this book while on retreat, this quote from the book struck me. The authors were quoting a family member, Quaker ministry Patricia Webb Levering, as she wrote about the spiritual discipline of solitude:

The renewal aspect of solitude is particularly helpful in relationships. We find ourselves better able to be for others after we have had some time apart to be internally refreshed. Solitude of the heart creates an inner spaciousness, unhurriedness, and reflectiveness that leave room to be open to another person.

Simple Living, pg. 246 (originally found in Disciplines for Discipleship)

YES! That quote alone made this book a good read for me. Really though, the story (although dated by now as Simple Living was published in 1993) is a reminder that the glitz and glamour culture tries to sell us is not where the really good things are. Doing less often allows us to be more, to enjoy more. It was the reminder I needed.

And also, I was reminded that I really need to save my glass jars and use them in a multitude of ways BEFORE I just cart them off to recycling. It’s the little things.

What little things do you do to create a simpler life?

Published by Kris

Jesus follower, racing wife, mom of seven, United Methodist pastor... Trying to live a life worthy of my callings.

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