Sunday, June 6, 2010

Simple Pleasures

Surveying the space I had for my armful of clothes - one small drawer roughly 12” X 18” X 5”, 3 or 4 coat hangers, plus a chunk of space in an overhead cupboard - I felt the familiar thrill of preparing to “rough it.” We were packing for a short camping trip and I was reminded, yet again, that we really don’t need much. The basics are just fine with me.
My affection for simplicity goes way back. As a child, my family would occasionally spend a week at a remote “dude” ranch that bordered a wilderness area in Montana. I can still picture and smell that mountain retreat. The smooth log walls of the cabin, the kerosene lanterns, cast iron wood stove, icy mountain stream that served as our cooler, and the outhouse through the woods are all still vivid in my memory. Being a child, I was not the one to start the fire in the chill of morning, light the lamp at dusk, or tramp to the stream to retrieve the watermelon, but neither do I recall any of the adults complaining. We all just kicked back and enjoyed the solitude, riding the horses & fishing the streams by day, visiting and playing cards by a crackling fire in the evening. There was no such thing as room service; dishes and cooking utensils were included in the deal, but we had to haul our own bedding and groceries along. It was my first glimpse of what pioneering might have been like. I found it fascinating and always hated to leave when the week was up.

As newlyweds, we treasured weekends and summer vacations at my family’s cabin at the lake. We shared a suitcase, unrolling our sleeping bags on the front deck, the pitch-black dome overhead filled with a million twinkling stars. Meals were nutritious, though simple - often barbecued. We took turns doing the dishes after each meal and I remember it as time of much chatter and laughter. As the cabin evolved to better serve the growing family, we claimed a small storage shed as our private space. Fishing gear, outdoor furniture, barbecue grill, various tools, building and plumbing supplies were stored in this little outbuilding. But for years after we moved away, returning there for only one week each summer, we enjoyed a small, roughly built bed attached to one wall in there. We fell asleep to the hoot of an owl and awoke to sunlight glistening on various odd pieces of pipe, hammers, saws, and fishing poles suspended overhead. A warm breeze often wafted in through the homemade screen door, billowing the burlap “drape”. I loved it there.

Simple needs, simple tasks - I’m reminded how important they are. We take off for the country to enjoy barbecued chicken, macaroni salad and fresh green beans; dishes done together with water heated on the stove; visiting with family and friends by a campfire, with an impossibly magnificent creation above; awakening to the twittering of birds; piping hot coffee freshly brewed; a hike through thick, mossy woods or to a nearby shore; reading and dozing in the sun (or to the patter of rain, if it falls); a time to reflect and refresh.
A change of clothes, some food, shelter, warmth, water, an active mind and body, good company, someone to love who loves you, meaningful work, communing with nature and our Father above. What else do we really need?

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  1 Timothy 6:6 - 10

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