It is difficult to think of our current situation as simple. People are unexpectedly sick, some have died. Our various health care systems are overloaded or scrambling to be prepared. Jobs have been lost, businesses don’t know what to do. People have jumped through all sorts of hoops to figure out how to work in different ways. Schools are closed, families are trying to cope with working, playing, eating, learning and just being in the same space all day, all night. Plans have been or need to be cancelled, sometimes taking a great deal of effort. Some people are alone. Completely. It is all very complicated.
And yet, I have noticed we are embracing simple things. Conversations with friends and family at all times of the day, every day. Walks with our families and housemates. Children riding their bikes through the neighbourhood. Baking our childhood favourite recipes. Cooking meals with ingredients we no longer wish to waste. Reading books that have sat for too long on our shelves. Trying out new hobbies like embroidery and painting. Sitting in the sunshine streaming through a window and drinking tea. Simple things that offer simple pleasures.
It reminded me of this Shaker tune, written by Joseph Brackett in 1848. It is, apparently, an instructive song. The words guiding worshippers to dance. Dance in their freedom, dance as a gift. And when they understand which ways to turn, it all works out and they find themselves in the valley of love and delight.
‘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. When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we will not be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
There are many ways to seek simplicity in these complicated days. I love that we are doing so. There are many ways to dance. Allowing ourselves the freedom to move literally, figuratively, spiritually and relationally in ways that coordinate with those in our lives to create joy and delight. The simplest of gifts provide the music for this dance. The simplest of gifts provide the instruction for how to dance. As we share these gifts, we expand the dance floor.
Last night, on our evening stroll, we came across an orchestra of pots and pans. Apparently, people are going outside all over the world every evening to cheer on health care workers as they arrive home from their shifts. To me, this is an astounding type of dance. Offering an incredibly simple gift to thank those on the front lines. It speaks to our ability to create something out of nothing, and then offer it as a tool of rejuvenation, as a glimmer of hope for those that are weary. It is simple and it is strong.
So, look for your simple gifts in this great big complicated mess. Those that you are able to give; those that you have undoubtedly received. More than ever before, we are dancing through something together. When we turn towards each other, we create the valley of love and delight. And we will find ourselves in the place just right.