Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Bliss of Simplicity

If ignorance is bliss, you'd think I'd be happy all the time... 

Actually, I think simplicity is bliss.  Like having 30 minutes after the dinner dishes are washed to sit on my front porch with a cup of coffee and a book.  Like "act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God."  Now that's beautiful.  For some people, simplicity is forced upon their minds by age or genetics.  Things like dementia and Down Syndrome subdue the capacity of the human brain to perform at its blistering best; they also spare a person from the anxiety and stress most of us experience. I admit that I've envied these folks at times. 

Just this week I encountered two fantastic examples of this kind of simple beauty, and it reminded me, strangely enough, of a future time when all I'll know is a world of perfected beauty and simple love.

First example:  I met an elderly woman at a long term care facility a group of teens from our church visited last Sunday. Every one of our group who stop to meet this woman was greeted with a gigantic smile, a trembling hug, and was told "I love you" over and over again.  While we were singing, she sat in her chair, gently rocking and holding a little Kewpie doll swaddled in a tiny knitted blanket.  She stroked its hair and spoke to it like an adoring mother.  Blissfully unaware of past pain or present dread, at this point in her life, all this woman knows is love and affection.

Second example:  I work part time at a learning center in our county that caters to the educational needs of students who have a variety of educational challenges.  One of the students (we'll call him Bobby) is a gigantic brute of an 18 year old who has a certain cognitive deficiency similar to Down syndrome. Bobby naps the first class period of the day, and then gets to engage in simple tasks and activities for the rest of the day.  This week some of the students made their own lava lamps out of water bottles, vegetable oil, water, food coloring, and alka seltzer tablets.  We added oil to the empty bottles, then a little bit of water, which settle quickly to the bottom, and then drops of food coloring.  The colorful blobs settled to the bottom of the oil and sat on top of the water below.  After a minute or two, those blobs would begin to suddenly dissolve and burst into the water below, creating wonderful cascades of color. 

There was a point when Bobby became discouraged and was certain his drops of color would never dissolve into the water. But all of a sudden, WHOOSH, and beautiful blue swirls decorated Bobby's water bottle.  His response: a gasp of wonder with wide eyes and an exclamation of "Pretty!!" and then moments later "That's BEAUTIFUL!"


Seeing the old woman and watching Bobby blessed me: it reminded me that the best things are the simple things, and that I'd be happier if I'd slow down a bit and enjoy them.

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