An Expanding Love
Week Eleven Summary and Practice
Sunday, March 14—Friday, March 19, 2021
Peter himself began to recognize that God works with all people of goodwill—not just people in his group. But he had to be pushed there. Little by little, God leads him to universal love.
To move beyond our small-minded uniformity, we have to extend ourselves outward, which our egos always find a threat, because it means giving up our separation, superiority, and control.
Love grounds us by creating focus, direction, motivation, even joy—and if we don’t find these things in love, we usually will try to find them in hate.
The ability to love yourself is intimately related to your capacity to love others. The challenge is creating a life that allows you to fulfill both needs. —Bishop Michael Curry
God has made it clear: if you love me you will work for liberation with the oppressed and marginalized in your midst, and you will share your home and food with those who have none. —Stephanie Spellers
Christian life is a commitment to love, to give birth to God in one’s own life and to become midwives of divinity in this evolving cosmos. We are to be wholemakers of love in a world of change. —Ilia Delio
Simplifying Our Lives
My spiritual father Francis of Assisi did not just tolerate or endure simplicity, he loved it and found his freedom there. He understood that living simply was a way to remedy selfish habits and cultivate generosity. This week’s practice from Kyle David Bennet invites us to consider ways that we might simplify our lives and material possessions.
- Pay attention to your purchasing habits. Do you buy in bulk? Are you an impulsive buyer? When do you feel the need to shop? If you buy in bulk, try getting only stuff for the week. Through trial and error, see how much you really need in a given week. If you’re an impulsive buyer, stay away from the things that ignite that impulse. If you know what makes you feel the need to shop, try to resist it in a constructive and healthy way. Go for a run or call a friend who can keep you accountable for your purchasing habits.
- How often we take out the trash is a sign of how much we use and consume and perhaps of how much we waste. Keep a record of how often you take out the trash. Mark it on the calendar, if that works. If you see an irregular pattern, and it’s not because you were away on vacation or hosted a party, then that’s a good sign that something is awry. In our household, that usually means that we combed through the fridge and disposed of a lot of spoiled food. These exercises help us rethink how often we need to purchase those items.
- Walk around your home, room by room, item by item, and ask yourself, “When’s the last time I used this?” Depending on the object, if you haven’t used it in a while, it might be something that you don’t need. Give it to someone who could use it.
- Sometimes we deceive ourselves and tell ourselves that we need more than we do. As a community (household, business, youth group, sports team), we should practice simplicity—not simply as individuals. Family, small group members, close friends, and even, to some extent, next-door neighbors can help us discern our needs. If you’re serious about it, muster up the courage and ask them: “Is there anything in my life that you think I don’t need?” “Is there anything that I have that you might need?”
- Use “spring cleaning” or however you clean your apartment or house to examine and evaluate how you can live simply. Every year I end up purging inessential books that I’ll never read again and donating clothes that no longer fit. Frequent exercises in purging can help us live simply.
Kyle David Bennett, Practices of Love: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World (Brazos Press: 2017), 53–55.