Thursday, March 19, 2015
“There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.” — Leo Tolstoy
One of the wonderful things about living here is the simplicity of life. Of course, when stripped down to its bare bones--life is just about survival and it is hard to get more simple than that. We are just a couple of notches above bare survival here, so simplicity is still the name of the game. There is an elegance in the measured walking in the heat so that progress is made but not at the cost of being uncomfortable. As we watch the people work here, we can see how simply everything is done because the process has been being refined for hundreds of years. Just hoeing the fields is done with an almost ballet-like movement that uses just enough muscle to get the job done and doesn’t waste any effort. We’ve tried to adopt as much as we can, but we are too American and want to complicate almost everything. Henry David Thoreau saw the direction Americans were heading when about a hundred and fifty years ago he wrote, “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” The sad fact is that we complicate our own lives and fill them with things we don’t need and that gives us ulcers worrying about them. We have discovered here that if we don’t watch or hear the news every day, it doesn’t change anything for us. Anything really important will show up on Facebook or a neighbor or worker will tell us. When I lived in the U.S., I had to watch the news and read the newspaper every day or I felt like there was something wrong. Now, the more I read and see what is going on in the world the sadder I become. I don’t think there are many places left where I could live and feel as safe as I do here. A four-year-old girl here can walk to town and back in complete safety. Not only will no one bother her, if she has any problems at all, many people will help her. Yes we have malaria, yes the life span is in the forties, yes there are many things we do without, but for all that, the simple life here is wonderful. There are many of you older folks in the U.S. who can remember living on a farm fifty or sixty years ago and that is pretty much what it is like here. This is not to say that we don’t keep up with the news—it just doesn’t have the power or influence on our attitudes that it used to have. Things are always changing here, just like everywhere else, and we have learned to adjust with greater ease. When I told my professor of mission that I was moving to Africa to become a missionary, she said, “Just know that nothing ever stays the same in Africa.” She was right about that, but there is also much that hasn’t changed for hundreds of years and part of that is how to approach life and its problems with grace and elegance. The Swahili for “worry” is “wasiwasi” and you almost never hear it. That’s a good thing. Even Christ Himself said that worry never added an inch to anyone’s height or a day to anyone’s life, and He was right, too. Be concerned, be aware, do what you need to provide for your family and to follow God’s call, but God never called anyone to worry—to action, yes, but to worry—no.