It has been said that Princess Diana left much upon her passing. Her fancy dresses, her jewels, her money- and more “hers” than I can muster up in my mind. I saw some things of hers not too long ago. Treasures I will never see in my hands now in a glass case for all to see. It has been said that Mother Theresa, who died around the same time, left her glasses and Bible. Such a contrast that lately, I have been thinking about being a minimalist.
I just heard that word not too long ago by two different people. One used it in reference to someone who was moving with not much to move. Another shared he wasn’t concerned about economic strife because he was living with the bare minimum anyway. A minimalist- someone who has basically everything on Basic Needs Pyramid- water, food, shelter, clothing, and maybe just a few added nice things like a crystal bowl or a color television. At least those were nice things way back when.
I have been telling the story of the First Thanksgiving to my young fives students. I told them about packing up and moving. Much wasn’t included in the packing list. It was a real running away from home kind of event. Basically, they had to stuff the essentials into a knapsack that you could either flip over your shoulder or stuff in a in a small trunk. Even so, they were not boarding the Carnival Cruise Ship. So weight was probably an issue. ( A Carry on Fee even before there was one)
Running away from home is a scary thing. It was a giving up of all the precious treasures in search of new ones. It was an emphasis on quality of life not the quantity of stuff for a good life. Should they have taken that lamp? What about the hand knit blanket or the solid oak rocking chair? No room!
The kids are always interested in knowing that as soon as the ship landed it was barefoot and running free time. After sickness, storm, and sadness ( some didn’t make it) they were on land. They were “free” in every sense of the word. Free to roam, run, and do what they pleased. Most of all they were free to worship God and be free from the Bossy One who made it difficult.
With freedom came a price. They were on their own and starting over. Build a house, find food, get clothes, ….much to consider. Winter was hitting fast. With the help of the Indians and some of their own schema, they survived winter and celebrated their first bountiful harvest.
So much food served at that first feast! They certainly set a precedence. Even popcorn was on the menu- (Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special had some real accuracy there.) A free life was now a real experience. There was much to be thankful for. Yet, it didn’t come easy. Surely some questioned- “Was it worth it?” Perhaps even on that first Thanksgiving Day. Yet, not one pilgrim got back on the ship back towards England. This was quality of life – here. And they thanked God for it. They were grateful. They knew true, quality of life and had found it.
I read a book about a Pilgrim Child to my class recently. It talked about all the work that had to be done each day in order to have this quality life. The farm work, the animals, the sewing, the cooking, the fixing, the building, – all for the necessities. If you had these – life was good. Todays kids can not wrap their minds around the concept of a girl getting up with the sun and beginning her daily chores. No, this wasn’t child slave labor, it was the way everyone contributed to some kind of quality in life.
The Pilgrims and the Indians were the prime examples of the minimalist. They knew the richness in the necessities of life and they were grateful. The harvest was bountiful and they paused to give thanks. It wasn’t thanks for the new I-phone, or thanks for the shiny new bike, or thanks for the diamond earrings. It was thanks for the provisions God gave for a quality of life. Such an example, makes me pause and ponder even the simple words of mealtime-“Thank you for this food.”
There is a little bit of an experiment going on at our house before Christmas. Funny how the thanks goes so quick and we focus all so quickly on the “getting” . Since it seems to fall shortly after we feast, We are taking inventory. We thank God for what we have now. To my four and a half year old, this means thanking Him for the 15 race cars and sharing what he likes about each one and actually playing with each one. To my daughter- the same only for princesses.
Thanks for the giving. Thinking about all the things that God has given. I am trying to become a minimalist yet I am finding I am more the opposite. I have enough and more. To me, much has been given. Thanks to Him who did all the giving.