“Life is deep and simple, and what our society gives us shallow and complicated.”
Fred Rogers said that. As in Mister. As in the fire engine red cardigan and the songs about neighbors. I’ve been ruminating on those words this past month. Complicated. How often do I use that word in my daily life? How often do I run through my days living “busy,” living “complicated”? I’m thinking about deep simplicity versus shallow complexity. What does it mean to cultivate a deep and simple life, to weed out the things that—in their seeming importance—seduce me into believing their complications are necessary? What is deep? What is simple? The answer to those questions almost always points toward what is good. I want to cultivate the simple and the deep in my ordinary life. I want to be present for real people in my physical life. I want to serve my church and community. I want to be a good friend, a person who isn’t constantly busy, constantly distracted.
“How can you live with the terrifying thought that the hurricane has become human, that the fire has become flesh, that life itself came to life and walked in our midst? Christianity either means that, or it means nothing. It is either the more devastating disclosure of the deepest reality in the world, or it’s a sham, a nonsense, a bit of deceitful play-acting. Most of us, unable to cope with saying either of those things, condemn ourselves to live in the shallow world in between.” N T Wright All God’s Worth
There’s the word again: shallow. As humans, we most often train ourselves to choose the shallow. It hurts less. And in order to make ourselves feel valuable, we shape the shallow to look important, complicated. Shallow lives are dangerous things.
And then there’s Jesus. We who believe in him are the people who believe in the hurricane turned human, in the fire become flesh. How far are we willing to walk into this faith of ours? Are we willing to trust in the deep reality that leads us out of shallow complications and into the rich simplicity of Jesus?
Grace and peace,
Pastor for Spiritual Formation