I was asked on the 4 Real Forum today what Elegant Simplicity was…I thought I would share my response…..
Elegant simplicity has been my mantra for awhile. There is a lovely lady on the Magnum Opus group who inspired me with this idea a long time ago as being mother of the home and it has been revisited time and again. Want ANOTHER LONG post from me? It is raining here and there are blanket tents around me everywhere, so I am free to type…so watch out!
I had an aunt that I barely remember…she was a Dominican nun who was very educated and devoted,( but never lorded it over you…you felt completely at home in her presence) wore the old habit and suffered much in her life(cancer) She had a big beautiful heart that was gentle enough to melt the heart of my big bear of a Grandfather with her sweet simple ways. She would be the first one to cut the roses in the garden to place on the table…only to hear my uncle gasp that his roses were nearly extinguished…this would invoke peals of laughter from her and a gentle reproof that God made those roses for the dinner table for all to appreciate not just for his tiny garden! She would eat good things but turn away seconds with the claim "I have acchieved an elegant sufficiency…thank you so much!!" We learned much from her!
For me, it is her memory and more…the touches here and there around the home that give it a feeling of care, warmth and welcome. It is a way of being a good steward with your gifts and passing them down to your children. It is purposeful living. It is the smell of baking bread and bubbling soup. It is (for me) making a work apron and when I wear it it means that I mean business. It both an attitude and an act of preparing the heart and the home. It is a simple flower in a vase, a tablecloth on the table and a tall cup of iced tea when it is hot. it means a pair of well-worn rosaries in your pocket (that are USED often)
It is a little extra touch in little places to make someone feel thought of…It is not the accumulation of things, but uses things at times to invoke the best from people. You don’t have to spend a fortune for this lifestyle. it is not about living cheaply, it is about living SIMPLY. It is having a GOOD piece of chocolate now and then and having a GOOD cuppa now and then and taking the effort to put it in a teapot to make it special. It is taking a deliberate pause to make things thoughtful. It is welcoming the Divine Guest in every person.
For us, it is a way of making do with less…but making what we do have speak for itself. I can bring to mind the french here…it does not have to be overdone to work….lol…it doesn’t even have to match, but it should me meaningful! Garage sales can bring home such treasures. Sometimes you have to be creative a little sneaky…or should I say surprising…God is…just think of the gentle touches of love He sends you every day…a gentle breeze just when you need it…it isn’t a co-incidence! It is a God-incidence and it takes a thoughtful pause to recognize and thank God for them…it is an attitude of thoughtfulness and gratitude!
it means being a LADY no matter what your circumstances…making lemonade out of lemons, being hopeful that God will bring the best out of people and situations and commending all to His care and providence and it means working hard…the good kind of working hard according to our station in life. it is filling your heart and life with living things, living books, living music, living a full life..seeing life as a garden…all things in this garden should pray and give praise to God the Creator of all things. All things come from Him and all things should go back to Him as a hymm of thanksgiving and prayer. It is the peace that only He can give, the calm amidst the storm. It is being the heart of the home and modeling the virtues of Our Lady…in her care we will be tended to as a garden…weeded, pruned, trainded up in her school of secret virtues….living in her secret garden of virtue and love…did you notice that She doesn’t speak much in the bible? She does act! She says "I am the handmaid of the Lord…""Do as He tells you" and she STANDS at the foot of the cross…what strength! What a LADY!!
Simplicty is an art! It is an art of living higher…it is the opposite of its vice…elegant is opposite the crude Albert Einstein once said" Out of clutter, find simplicity."
Here are some quotes from my notes on Simplicity. I am working on a virutes project with the children that also involve the Mary Garden and the Virtues of Our Lady…it is still a work in progress…I hope great things from it!!
"Simplicity, carried to an extreme, becomes elegance." Jon Franklin
"Less is more. God is in the details." (Mies van der Rohe)
"Simplicity doesn’t mean to live in misery and poverty. You have what you need, and you don’t want to have what you don’t need." (Charan Singh)
"Eliminate physical clutter. More importantly, eliminate spiritual clutter." ~D.H. Mondfleur
To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs
The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson
Live simply that others might simply live. ~Elizabeth Seton
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. ~Henry David Thoreau
We don’t need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it. ~Donald Horban
The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed – it is a process of elimination. ~Elbert Hubbard
“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”
“The simplest things are often the truest.”
“Simplicity is the nature of great souls.”
“Simplicity is indeed often the sign of truth and a criterion of beauty.”
“There is a certain majesty in simplicity which is far above all the quaintness of wit.”
“Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art. They seem to be the purpose of God for his whole creation.”
The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have
into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos
to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes
sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Simplicity in character, in manners, in style; in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Our Lady of the Garden,
help and comfort me;
give me a heart full of love
for Jesus, my Redeemer,
sanctify me, o most sweet Mary!
Sweet and dear Mother,
answer those who call upon you;
save those who love you and trust in you.
I ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Our Lady of the Garden’s
Feast Day is July 2)
"A Garden Stroll"
"Afternoon Retreat" both by Anne Vaclavik