The Joy of Living Lightly

In Celebration of Simplicity: The Joy of Living Lightly
by Penelope Wilcock [Monarch, 2009]
celebration of simplicity
“Three reasons why I love simplicity – for the beautiful, bountiful earth; for Jesus and St Francis, in the hope one day I might get to be a bit like them; and because it’s the only way I know to stay sane and keep it together without meds. I know of no difficult life situation that doesn’t improve with simplicity. As Toinette Lippe said: Problems arise where things accumulate. I find that to be true.”

“We live surrounded by garbage. I have just made a couple of trips to the municipal dump to get rid of some bags of plaster after we had a ceiling replaced. Municipal dumps are depressing. The one in Hastings is making valiant efforts to sort and recycle, but a distressingly huge pile of bags and boxes fills one end of the site. Everyone is in a hurry, in a bad temper, anxious to get shot of their crud and disappear.

The place is filled with broken consumer goods, the detritus of our throw-away society and the consequences of our incessant upgrades. Potted hell.

This is one part of what Pen Wilcock addresses in her short but luminous book. She says that simplicity, giving away (not throwing away) surplus possessions is a first step towards a life which is free to live, laugh, love and generally enjoy the earth. Simplicity should rule our use of time as well as our material resources; it should characterise our dealings with one another; it should be the starting point for our evaluation of a course of action. Simplicity is kind to the earth and kind to ourselves, but more importantly it is a spiritual path. Jesus never had a mortgage or a career progression. Simplicity renders us deaf to the seductive whispers of personal aggrandisement; it keeps us balanced and alert to what truly matters.
Lest anyone should think this is a finger-wagging document, nothing could be further from the truth. Pen Wilcock’s book is full of illuminating quotations and a nice sense of fun. Built around the metaphor of making bread, it quickly persuades the reader that he or she could turn their life around, and explains how to go about doing so – saving money, time, the earth and all our futures in the process.”
penelope wilcox
For Penelope Wilcock’s blog, see:

Penelope Wilcock is the author of a number of novels, including “The Hawk and the Dove” trilogy (Crossway) and “The Clear Light of Day” (Monarch / David C Cook) and various other books including the classic “Spiritual Care of Dying and Bereaved People” (SPCK). She has many years of experience as a Methodist minister and has worked as a hospice, prison and school chaplain. She has five adult daughters and lives in Aylesbury, Bucks. She is a sister of the Servants With Jesus . The fellowship includes sisters of a variety of church denominations, and represents a considerable diversity in theological outlook:

“The Servants with Jesus (SJW) emerged in public in 1972. Their underlying aims are to work and pray for love, unity and renewal among Christians of all branches of the church, to pray in agreement with Jesus that all His people will be one so that the world will believe that the Father sent Him (John 17:21), and to seek, by their example in all they say and do and in how they live their lives, to lift Jesus up to the world that He may draw all people to Himself (John 12:32). Their aspirational behaviour model is the Proverbs 31 wife. And, because she wore purple, the Servants also wear purple in their attire, together with the gold cross that is blessed and given to them on their anointing (see below). They are free to dress modestly in contemporary clothing but are asked to include some purple.
servants with jesus
They are not nuns; and “Jerusalem,” The Coach House, is not a convent. The Servants live in their own homes off-site, some in other cities, and they may be single or married. Some hold down jobs, enjoy their families, and all aspire to live to the standards of the Proverbs 31 wife. They attend their own churches and are expected to participate in the life of their church.

The SJW charity objects state their main purpose as “to advance the Christian faith throughout all or any parts of the world” which is to be achieved by four subsidiary aims: 1) to promote and pray for the fellowship of all Christian people; 2) to establish centres for interdenominational worship and evangelism; 3) to train people of all ages in Christian discipleship and service; and 4) to distribute and publish Christian literature.”
coach house
Situated on land dedicated by a Christian Anglo-Saxon king more than 1,200 years ago “to serve the praise of God,” The Coach House is a wonderful Christian heritage site. The Coach House was built by the 8th Earl De La Warr in about 1891 to serve the Bexhill Manor and house his horse-drawn coaches on the ground floor in four garages. It included a cottage for a coachman at the eastern end and domestic servants’ quarters on the middle and top floors. What is now the Prayer Room on the top floor was originally a hay loft.


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