Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Yes ~ the snail, the hobo, the caddis fly larva: but also me. I am not free of my possessions for one minute of one day, not free of them until I lay them down.

Jesus said “So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33 Amplified Bible)

He does not mean this metaphorically or figuratively, though it does apply to intangibles that I cling to as well – status, opinion, power and so on. He is speaking literally. He means it.

It is not a threat or a bargain. He says elsewhere: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free . . . if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:32,36)

Omnia mea mecum porta ~ so heavy, it is so heavy: so exhausting to carry 
all  that  … stuff ...    

Jesus stands at our door and knocks (Revelation 3.20). “Here I am,” he says; and he offers, if I will open the door to him, to come in to me in fellowship ~ that is, as an equal, as a friend.

But what about when I want to go to him ~ to return the visit? The door in to the presence of Jesus is simplicity. The Church of the Nativity at Behlehem is entered through a very low door, called the Door of Humility, about four feet high.

I must become humilis to get at the place where Jesus comes to birth.  

Having nothing, being nothing.

Jesus also told this parable: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46 NKJV)

That he might seriously mean this is repellant to me. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I am repellant to it. I am waterproofed against the merciful dew of his words. They slide off me.

Again and again, in a closed repeating cycle, I have chosen possessions over the peaceable kingdom ~ the kingdom of God. With tedious predictability I have traded the pearl of great price for costume jewellery.

I wonder now, if I will ever break free? Here and there I come across those who have, who live an arresting testimony to peace and freedom; who speak about Jesus. But their voices are quiet and few, their ways casual and hard to trace – like the dotted silver path of a galloping snail.

That the endeavor to become small should be so big. That life should be so long and what it asks of me so slight and unexceptional. This is the stuff of mystery.

You know what I think helps? A companion.

And maybe smoking a pipe, if it were no so bad for one's health.


Anne said...

Does any mortal really forsake all? I think if you examine the lives of those who live exclusively for their religion, you will see even they have to bust loose every once in a while in order to stay sane.

Pen Wilcock said...

I'm not really talking about living exclusively for religion, because religion is also a 'thing'. I think the humilis live below religion. Maybe it's about direction rather than destination? "Yes" to a spare set of underwear but "No" to a gun and SUV? xx

Alice Y. said...

Lovely thoughts. God's sweetness is such a blessing.

Might sound a bit odd but do you have any bubble mixture? I find blowing bubbles to be a good 'break activity', I think it may be a little like smoking a pipe but not so toxic.

gail said...

Mystery yes. Companion, most definitely. Really like the smell of a pipe, but yes, it is very unhealthy.
Don't you love the fact though, that His door is always open, with a beautiful sign on it saying "Please come in, you are always welcome." Maybe we need to enter first of all, and in doing so, we can may find that being in His presence naturally brings us to the point where simplicity is all we want; if we can just be with Him.
I understand about breaking free. I really think being comfortable with how things are is actually stepping backwards. As I sit here I realise that I am often uncomfortable these days, because what I want is more of him in my life and to have more I need to let go of the unnecessary. Things and activities that once held my interest are of no use to me now. Pen, I think when we reach that point of dissatisfaction with the choices and chances we have made and missed, then, that is when we can move forward towards His open door whilst shedding the accumulated layers and taking up the garment of simplicity. Most of us at times have chosen the costume jewellery, (I know I certainly have, more times than I care to acknowledge) not realising we are forgoing the great pearl. But then He has a wonderful solution for our negligence and that is "Grace''. That's the gift He offers. For me, that's the gift my repentant heart, reaches out to grasp. When I look back at my life so far I am so unworthy to receive such a gift. Now at 63 I am learning to really live with great expectancy. I no longer look back. The path ahead with my hand in His is where I wish to walk these days. Again Pen, you have made me take a good look at who I was and where I want to be now.
Blessings Gail.

gretchen said...

as my home becomes simpler and quieter (thanks in great part to reading your wonderful book, 'in celebration of simplicity' very very slowly with much underlining in pencil), it also becomes more and more filled with light, easier to breathe in, much faster to clean and a place of peace. which, naturally, spills over into other aspects of my life - from clothing in the closet to what i eat and how i pray. so please consider me a kindred on the quiet path, shouting encouragement from across the pond!

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Alice - Bubbles! Brilliant! :0D xx

Hi Gail - Grace at the heart of it all sounds absolutely right - especially because grace itself is a giving, a releasing, a form of letting go - it's dynamic and unpossessive. xx

Hi Gretchen - I just love the idea of Kindred of the Quiet Way shouting loud encouragement to each other from different global locations. Fab! xx

Jenna said...

I've never been able to reconcile this type of approach with the fact that Abraham was counted as righteous and he was one of the richest men on the planet at the time. Jacob spent his 20 or so years with Laban amassing possessions and livestock--strove with the Angel and was pronounced "Israel," keeper of the promises. Solomon--wealthiest king Isra'el ever knew and (mostly) faithful. We have the 28 blessings of obedience of Deut 28 (first 14 verses--the rest about disobedience is a downer). So--I'm not sure. Certainly some of us find it easier to focus without a lot of stuff laying around.

Ros said...

I wonder... (I'm not saying this is so, I'm just wondering...)

Is a true appreciation of 'things' necessary before we can renounce them?

I was just thinking of the first time I walked out into the garden after 6 months or more of being unable to move from the bed/house. It was so, so special just to feel the earth beneath my feet; to feel the cool grass, to see and touch the bright flowers...

Before my illness, before that moment, I had not truly understood what an amazing thing walking is.

Meanwhile, there is a lot in that passage from Luke about counting the cost, which would tend to imply that there is one. In other words, that discipleship is difficult for us because we know the other things have value. Like parents and children and brothers and sisters and food and a home, for example.

If the pearl of great price is worth more than those things... it doesn't make them worth nothing, does it? On the contrary, they simply serve to show how much the pearl itself is worth.

I wonder...

I wonder if, by some strange quirk of human nature, the means of renunciation lies in the true appreciation of what something is worth to us...?

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Jenna, hi Ros.

I think the key to this puzzle is in us all being different - each one unique. A quick read through the gospels makes it clear some of Jesus's friends had home and the means to feed a hungry band of disciples.

I was musing yesterday on the life of Daniel Suelo - who lives without money and is slowly gathering a 'moneyless tribe'. I admire what he is doing, and learn a lot from him - a tremendous source of encouragement. But it takes only a few minutes reflection to see it couldn't work for everyone. As soon as you move from considering able-bodied men, the difficulties become apparent. Moneyless (homeless) women would be very vulnerable to rape, people with chronic illness and disability would find their lives untenable, and children would be very vulnerable indeed, as would old people.

In my own household, two of us earn our living in such a way that we don't need stuff. But two of us are artist/crafters and could not work without a studio and a whole arsenal of equipment. One of us makes furniture for our family's homes, and needs a workbench and tools.

God provides as we are called; but in every case simplicity - however that is worked out in the life of the individual - is essential for spiritual development.

Rebecca said...

"Companion". Yes! Essential in the most literal, basic sense.

I'm amazed at the variety of ways companionship offers itself - and the timing! Always perfect when received and recognized as from the Father's hand

Anonymous said...

You are right, there has to be a balance between what one needs here and now and the attachment to it. Often how one lives is in deference to others i. e. keeping a birthday present to keep a loved one happy. Simplicity can be a state of mind. Smoking a pipe may mean a philosophical acceptance of the way things stand, but that would be very unhealthy. We are in essence individuals with unique set of pieces needed to finish our inner jigsaw. But you nailed it when you mentioned diversity.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Rebecca ~ "the variety of ways companionship offers itself" - yes, indeed! xx

Hi Anon ~ I love the idea that each of us has the unique set of pieces needed to finish our inner jigsaw. That must be why it takes so long and we need so much help. I think I'm still struggling to separate out all the edge bits! But I think I've got this funny red blurry thing from the top left hand conner sorted . . .