Simple Gifts

Collection by Camilla Engman

'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.

--excerpt from the Shaker song "Simple Gifts"

I have been involved in an intense love affair with technology and media for the last couple of years. Like many of you, I am continually enamored with the vast oceans of information flowing through my computer screen from Google Reader to Facebook to Pinterest to Gmail. I am ever inspired by the musings and creativity of design blogs; I am delighted by the curated treasures of my Pinterest friends; I am amused and often edified by comments and links posted on Facebook. Yet. Yet...I think the time has arrived for me to claim God's gift of simplicity. For me, this means I need to harness those waves of information with a bit more skill than I have thus far; I need to spend less time immersing myself in the waters of the world wide web.

As the Shaker song implies, from simplicity flows freedom. Simplicity will gift me with the freedom of more silence, more experience in the world, a heightened awareness of God's words, and more embodied, human interaction. It will gift me with the freedom to surround myself with the things that make me happiest. The Internet is my momentary thrill, but I feel deep, roaring joy roll through my body when I am touching hands, looking into eyes, feeling breath, listening to voices (human and animal), standing before mountains, pushing against the wind, and smelling damp soil. God speaks to me not through pixles and binary code but through the soft underbelly of the earth where shiny beetles mingle with the knarled roots of a pine tree. This is the aliveness that I miss.

Like the Shakers, I want to find myself in the place just right where I sit with people and the outside air and give voice to love, offer my respects to lasting delight. I don't think this means I need to absolve myself of all Internet immersions, but rather decrease them so as to make more space in my body and my surroundings for this dynamic simplicity that is my gift to claim.