Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Simplify Your Life?

Often we think how lucky people are who seem to have abundanant finacial resources and can enjoy all the latest gadgets, the finest cars and large beautiful homes in magnificent settings. As the old saying goes, "Beware of what you pray for."  The life style that leads to an abundance of material wealth frequently involves much more anxiety and a greater focus on worldly matters, distracting you from spiritual matters which in the end are the most important.

Elder Paisios advises,
These days, I stress simplicity to lay people too, because of many things they do are not necessary and they end up being consumed by Anxiety... I constantly scold them, "If you want to get rid of anxiety, simplify your lives!" That is how most divorces start.  People have to do too many things, too many obligations and they get dizzy.  Both parents work and abandon the children.  The result is fatigue and nervousness, which causes small issues to turn into large quarrels and then to automatic divorces; that's where they end up.  But if they simplified their lives, they would find rest and joy.  Stress is catastrophic.
After this advice he tells the story of an very wealthy man who told him he lived in "Paradise." He replied to him, "You live in Hell." Then he follows with the following story of a simple man who was most cheerful, praising God, full of humility and simplicity.  Even though he was very busy, this man came to see the Elder early in the morning to seek prayers for his family which consisted of his seven children and parents who all lived with him.
He spoke with great simplicity. "The room fits us all if we stand up, but if we lie down it is a bit tight.  Thank God, now we are constructing a shed to use as a kitchen and we are doing fine.  Father," he said "at least we have a roof over our head, while other people live in the open air."
The man was an ironer, He lived in Athens and had to leave everyday before dawn to arrive in Piraeus for work in a dry-cleaning shop.  He was suffering from varicose veins as a result of having to stand up all that time and his legs bothered him a lot, but his love for his family made him forget his pain and discomfort.  In fact, he pitied himself constantly for not having, as he said, an love in his heart, because he did not do any acts of Christian charity and praised his wife for being charitable.  Apparently, besides taking care of her children and her parents in-law, she would wash clothes of some elderly men in the neighborhood, tidy up their homes and even cook a little something, like soup, for them.   You could see divine grace depicted on the face of the good family man.  He had Christ in his heart and was full of joy, just like his one-room house was filled with heavenly bliss.  Compare this man with people who do not have Christ in their heart; they are filled with anxiety.  Take two of them and try to fit them in a house large enough for eleven people; they will not find a way to fit.
The key to simplicity in life is a Christian life where God is the focus of our life.  When God is the center of life, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in we will be thankful and have joy in our heart.  But, this requires humility which usually goes in hand in hand with a simple life.

Resource: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, p 184

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