This is the tenth in a series written by Malcolm Marler and Mary Bea Sullivan, husband and wife, about their journey as Mary, an author, prepares to go to Virginia Theological Seminary.  Malcolm is a director of pastoral care at a hospital in Alabama.

“She Said” by Mary Bea Sullivan

Much of our simplification journey has focused on “stuff,” what to give away, throw out, or keep. We have cataloged pictures, and passed along food-filled tupperware.  Each load out the door lightening a load within.  My former life coach instructor, Jim Vuocolo was right when he said, “The outer reflects the inner.”

I remember when I was taking training from Jim some seven years ago, he assigned the task of cleaning out my office as a way of creating a fresh start for my work.  I found the process so liberating I moved on to the closets in my bedroom.  (I know it is sick, but I had two and they were packed.)  Malcolm and I had been dating for more than a year and he used to “kid” that he wasn’t sure there was enough room in my home for him.

Sparked by Jim’s challenge, I spent an entire Saturday culling and clearing. By evening I stepped back admiring one empty and one organized closet realizing, there is more than enough room for Malcolm in this home; and in my heart. One week later when Malcolm returned from an extended trip in Africa, we decided to marry.  (I imagine I’ve lost some of my life-partner seeking readers–they are busy throwing out old bridesmaid dresses or double-breasted suits.)

Yes, the outer does reflect the inner. Perhaps one of the gifts from the disappointment of not selling our home, although I am hesitant to start announcing “gifts” so soon, is the opportunity to consider simplicity from a deeper place.  What does simplicity look like as a way of being?  Oh, my heart yearns for such wisdom, for such a way.

I believe I’ve been given glimpses of this way of being. When I am sitting with a client–cell phone silenced, laptop shut, candle lit, awareness heightened, and prayers permeating the air. As we come together, “lifting up our hearts,” leaving space for the Spirit to dance among us, there is a piercing clarity of purpose–to listen for how God is working in our lives in this moment.

Simplicity’s sweet song washes over me when I fully offer myself to the task at hand–be it clearing dishes, developing a retreat, listening to beautiful music, picking flowers from the garden, sinking toes into the sand, napping on the couch, serving food to tornado victims, …..She is there beckoning, “Sink in, breathe, smell, taste, touch; your very existences is meant for this one moment.”

Hmmm we are on to something here folks, I may linger in this space for awhile. Probably, you arrived long before me. Thank you for waiting.  This is a healing place, a softer place, yielding, and inviting.  Oh my, for weeks I have been wondering, Where is God in all of this? Right here, right now, in this place. I think I’ll stop writing and give myself a few moments to just be.

Thank you for walking with us on this journey.  How have you experienced simplicity as a way of being?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Note: “Pour Your Heart Into It” Day 10 in  Living AWAKE Forty Days Toward Renewal offers an exercise that fits well with this theme.  Blessings.