Simple Joys

Sometimes it is the simple things that make the richest gifts.

How blessed are those simple gifts – an unhurried conversation, an intimate look, a homemade meal eaten at leisurely pace, an unexpected touch.  The ordinary arts we may practice every day at home are those that truly enrich.

James, my husband of 42 years (the Saint, of course!) has realized lately how frustrated I get when using a dull knife. He has undertaken the task of keeping our knives razor sharp.

…It is such a pleasure to use a knife that is sharp!

What a gift is a handwritten note! In this age of electronic ‘On The Run Replies’, a handwritten note gets one’s attention. It is special, memorable, and might even end up in someone’s treasure box, to be re-read for years to come. Simple. Its cost is in time and care. And its rarity makes it even more valuable. A simple thing of great worth.

Sitting together with friends, sipping tea and sharing thoughts, dreams, hearts…

…or maybe bonking clown noses with your cousin.

Cousins and Clown Noses
Cousins and Clown Noses

…The delight of that once a year and oh-so-transient fragrance of the lilac.

…Someone putting a candle on the tea tray.

…The art of sitting still with a hook and some lovely yarn to crochet something, anything – bringing rest, peace, and quiet enough to allow your soul to breathe.

…Sitting next to your husband on the swing, maybe with his arm around your shoulders, maybe with the dog on the other side… with just a little movement, a slight back and forth, like watching the waves. No agenda, simply being together, enjoying each other, enjoying the quiet. A simple art, a gentle joy.

When Jim and I went to Hawaii, we sat on that beautiful sandy beach, not sunning ourselves, but staring myopically at the little sand crabs that either busily scurried about or became absolutely invisible when they froze at the slightest movement. They were AMAZING! We were entranced! Fascinated. We took scads of pictures. For an hour and a half we sat ever-so-still, watching and studying them with intensity and great wonder. These were the pictures we sent home to the grandchildren! These were probably our finest hours there. Truly a gift.

...the wonder and the joy of sand crabs...
…the wonder and the joy of sand crabs…

I have a memory, a moment of such utter, transcendent joy, one of those elevated high among the abundant precious memories in my life. It is one that will always nourish hope, soothe any recent, raw places, and deeply nourish. (I hope you have some of these, too.) Jim and I were young. Our kids were about six and three. All four of us were jumping on the bed. (Back then we had a lumpy mattress and box springs perched upon cinder blocks, so we had the great freedom to do so.) At one point we were all laughing so hard we simply fell back on the bed in uncontrollable hysterics. As the laughter waned, and we lay there breathless, I turned my head and looked into Jim’s shining eyes, and in that wordless moment, somehow, my soul touched heaven. Never will I forget that fleeting instant.

The simple joys are the ones to aim for!  Somehow, they are the ones that carry no burdens…. Why are we so set on the elaborate, expensive, consumable, depreciating, high-maintenance, burdensome things that can’t satisfy as deeply? We sell ourselves short. We purchase the mediocre at great price …and miss the exquisite.

“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

(Thomas Moore)

Oh, may I never disdain those beautiful, ordinary arts! May I never have grander pretensions. Then might I live each day simply, beautifully, meaningfully.

Yours for the return of Grace, Civility, Beauty, Gentility, and Excellence,

Mary Alice