“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” declares Henry David Thoreau, penning his words after long saunters through the woods around Walden Pond. Our Transcendentalist ancestor enjoyed daily walks, alone or with companions, as an essential spiritual practice. He owned few possessions and lived the art of simplicity.
And yet, Thoreau was also an activist, refusing to pay taxes in protest of slavery and American imperialism, and speaking out publicly on these issues. His words on Civil Disobedience profoundly impacted Tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and countless other activists.
This is our paradox of simplicity: we are called into the stillness of quiet reflection, and out again into the public square. Perhaps we might consider simplicity, not as an escape from life, but as a way to deepen in fuller engagement with the heart of our lives and the world around us. Simplifying our lives of distractions makes room to consider what matters most.
As Unitarian Universalists, we walk together– whether it is the labyrinth on our wooded hilltop, or in places beyond bearing witness to peace. This past month I joined Rev. Chris and Veterans For Peace, Nick Mottern and Everett Cox, at a march in Manhattan. On a rainy Friday morning, we walked through the streets with hundreds of others in honor of peacemaker, Father Daniel Berrigan, who died on April 30th. Berrigan lived a materially simple life and engaged in many acts of civil disobedience–burning Vietnam War draft cards in the 1960’s, dismantling nuclear weapons in the 1980’s, and serving prison time for his actions.
As we walked, Rev. Chris and I carried the UU banner calling us to imagine a world without nuclear weapons. This is our banner that many UUCRT hands helped carry last year at the Peace and Planet March, and that we continue to lift up in the name of peace, standing with our minister.
We are a Peace Advocacy Congregation, and we walk this road together. Ours is a long banner, and one person cannot carry it alone. The rain pours down hard at times, and the journey is long. In this month of simplicity, may we clear space in our lives to hear the call of our deepest values. And may we respond together, carrying the banner of peace and justice wherever the path may lead.