Friday, February 11, 2011

Simplicity and Salt

I have been pondering the meaning of simplicity for some time now and a last week I was thinking about it again after reading my dear friend Maria's post on clothing. I just love how I can be encouraged to think about the true values in my life by the kindred spirits I have found on line.
I certainly do not think this is a coincidence as I believe God leads us to a person or book or even a verse to help us be led in the direction he is taking us.

So I was not surprised as I was pondering how Maria's blog post applied in my own life to hear at Mass on Sunday the reading from Mathew 5 verse 13:
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men."
This and the verse from John 17verse 16:
"They are not of the world, as I also am not of the world" as well as the sermon using these themes caused me to think even more broadly about the life I am living and how it is measured in view of my relationship with Jesus.

Some of the questions I have considered are~
* Do I live my life so others can see I am Christ's follower?
* Is this evident in my daily dealings not only with the wider community but in my dealings in my more personal relationships?
* Does the way I present myself say there is anything special or different about myself that might have people wonder why that is and therefore explore the reason why?
* Do I really represent the love of Jesus in my daily actions, thoughts and attitude?

Now I do believe I have never been one to concerned (if that is the right term) of what others think of my actions or ideals. If I have a stance on something I know I will back that up even though no one else thinks the same way I do. If I  am convicted on something I will stand firm.

So while I ponder Maria's post and the ideals within it and am so grateful for the fact I have such kindred spirits to enrich my life with ideas and attitudes that are an example and inspiration that I can emulate, I do think that at different points in our lives and even the lives we are called to live that my stance is slightly different to my good friend Maria's.
I also think this is fine. We are not called to be copycats of one another but to see and take the 'pondering thoughts' that God has pointed out to us and adapt them to our own lives.

In relation to the way we dress I have for over 17 years, since I was expecting Autumn have had a dress style I have loved.
Now this is not a popular style, well perhaps it has more standing now but back when I started wearing it it was not a 'fashion trend.'
There are other styles of dress that I think are very beautiful too. My friend Emily wears these adorable regency dresses but although I love them I do not think they suit my figure. Once again we can all live our lives simply and beautifully but not in the exact same way.

I have a pattern that we have adapted to allow it to have button through, half buttons or no buttons at all but a zipper a the side. It is similar to the one below.
Now in my opinion it is a very simple and plain dress, I usually do not add any decorations or collars to it and have it made in long and short sleeve.
Mostly at the moment I wear it not as fitted as I have done as it allow me to wear it while pregnant. When I am breast feeding a baby for modesty sake I tend to wear a very simple skirt and t-shirt/skivvy or blouse for the ease of feeding. I am very much a brown boot girl and have a pair of blundstone boots for everyday and a pair of more dressy boots for going to town of church etc.

Now usually this style of dress does not appeal to everyone but I love the feeling of femininity and ease of wear it entails. I have during my mothering years been a mother who will sit on the floor with our children. I need to be able to do this without worrying about what my clothing is doing, this enables me to play freely with out children and enjoy the time with them.

As I have said I believe God gives us nudges in the direction he wants us to follow and so very early on in our marriage I was influenced in my reading by two very special women. Edith Schaffer and Emilie Barnes. Both these women were very feminine and committed to a simple life of serving God and their family. Both of them were inspired by a calling in showing the value of family and the wife/mother's role within it. This influenced my own thinking and the way I was trying to keep our home.

I remember seeing  the 'saltyness' that set them apart from others and that appealed to me. To be visibly different can be a good trait if it causes others to question what it  is about us that makes us like that. If our goal is to inspire others to look to Jesus as the way the truth and the light.

However, how we dress should never surpass the way we act toward others. If we want others to see the love of Christ then they must see Christ in us. So in my everyday life I need to be aware of my responses in ALL situations and respond as Christ would.

How easy that is to say and yet how hard this can be to do. I would like to encourage you that we can do this. We need to be close to our Saviour to be like him, devoting time in prayer and Bible reading to know how to 'think and act with the mind of Christ'.
I must admit as I was pondering these thoughts last week I was pleased and humbled by some remarks made to me.

I was at my first ante-natal booking in at the hospital with a midwife I have never seen before. As back ground I have had three or our children at this hospital before. I was in the room giving information to the midwife when I heard voices out side the door, my midwife (whose name I have shamefully forgotten) walked out to organise something, while out of the room three nurses walked in. One of them was the midwife who was with me for my entire labour with Arwen and the other was there for part of it. Olga was a beautiful midwife to have during this time and she came up to me and gave me a great big hug, well several in fact. She said she had heard I was coming back in to have another baby and was so pleased to see me. How well I was looking and I thought that not only was that important to me as a person but I also feel it is a good example as the mother of many children. (That is another post about the importance of our attitude and presentation as the mothers of large families)

Now the part that I am getting to that  I couldn't help but feel was an example of being a woman of simplicity but of being salty.
Olga said she had said to the other midwife " You are so lucky to have Gae, she is such a beautiful person!" Now I say this not to brag but to point out that in any circumstance, and as women know giving birth is often not an ideal circumstance to give a good impression, we still are ambassadors for Christ and so are called to be salt of the earth.

Mandy the other nurse was the special lactation nurse we had come to our home over a period of months to help with our little Arwen's feeding issues. She came every couple of days for quite a while and yet the impression we left her was a good one too. Not through any falseness on our behalf but in our genuine example of trying to live our lives as God had called us to.

Our lives are an opportunity to live the experiences that are placed in our hands to the honour and glory of our Lord.

Simplicity and saltiness are staples we can build our lives on, in fact the very foundation of our lives can be built upon these two values. To live our lives in simplicity and with a fair amount of salt to 'season' not only our own lives but all those whom we have contact with.

What a responsibility! What a mission! What a labour of love!

I have 'planning' this post in my head for a week now and I am sure I didn't cover it the way I had wanted to approach this topic, so if it sounds strange please forgive my ramblings.

Blessings to you and your homes,


Anonymous said...

Oh Gae...your words have touched me deeply. Thank you for this.

I know that the only reason we are set apart from this world, it is not the dress...but it is because of Our Love for Him, who is our center, our very life!

In fact, the way we dress shows our love for Him...that in a very lovely and modest way.

Your keen insight into this issue is exactly what I have been finding out during this new journey. I am not trying to dress plain in the way of a very strict religious orders...instead, I am allowing Our Lord to guide this change completely.

He has been showing me the loveliness in cloth. The linens, the wools, the cottons...all of these are wonderful, beautiful fabrics by themselves. Adornments are rarely necessary to enhance the simplicity of garments made from these fibers.

But clothing is such a small part of who we are as Christ Followers! It is our attitudes. It is the way we carry ourselves. It is the way we smile towards others and the way we are courteous and understanding during trials of the everyday!

My Sweet Gae, thank you for your kind words. Thank you for showing others your true beauty and your love for Our Savior.

I feel very blessed to have you as an "online friend" I have been blessed indeed!


Kim said...

Gae, I love this post. I really do. There is a lot for me to ponder, to munch on. I am going to print it out and take it with me in my prayer time.

Somewhat related, I am still trying to find a good dress (or pattern for a beginner to sew). Our thrift stores are coming up empty, but I think that may be in part of not knowing totally what I need. Nursing ability would be nice. Long, yes. Decent neckline. Yes. Sleves, please. But I'm not sure what else beyond that.

Annnnnd, I'm rambling now. :)

Simply Be... said...

Hi Gae, sorry to be so behind in responding to this wonderful post! I have family staying for the weekend and have been busy attending them.
BUT I want to say a hearty AMEN!! to what you've written!
I agree with you so much. I love the dress style you mentioned - where I live I hardly ever see women in dresses. Even in Church.
It's interesing to me to think about what our clothes say to others.
They can convey so much!
Personally, I like prairie styles and cape-dresses such as Amish, Mennonite and Plain folk wear - including the prayer cap and veils.
But my hubby does not :-(
So I wear modern long skirts and blouses etc. when I leave the house but at home I tend to dress a bit more old-fashioned.
I often cover my head in a kerchief ..or jewish teichel scarf (which hubby loves).
I love to wear a mantilla at Latin Mass but it's rare that I get to Sydney to attend one now.
All that really is important to have the heart centred on Christ and His desires.
Our Lady of Fatima said "Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much!"
I'm sure He's suffered much offence over the current immodest dress of even His own followers, let alone those lost in the world.
Simplicity of heart is what I know I need. Once gained, it will overflow to so many other areas and aspects of my life.
Being true to who we are as individuals who are also in 'community' in Christ, is a quest many of us are on.
It's so nice to know we've got plenty of company on this journey to holy simplicity :-)
Have a great weekend my friend.

Gae said...

Dear Sweet and Kind ladies.
How touched I am by your words and thank you for the time taken.

Dear Maria,
I do hope that you understand I was so thankful for your post that lead me to think again what is important for me. I am so blessed to be able to have the inspiration you share and show to me and that we can all be 'salt to each other'

Dear Kim,
Hoping you have time to ponder this week with your little ones and are feeling a little rosier thatn you were.

Dear Trish, Again I ma blessed by your genuine care and love. I hope you are enjoying your time with your family.
Such a pity we don't live closer I would so love that

Many blessings this weekend to you all


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