Most of us turn away from the desire to be simple. That’s because simplicity in our minds has to do with “ordinariness.” We have an aversion to being and sounding ordinary, because it does not attract attention. And yet simplicity is not ordinary at all. A truly simple person is not self-conscious but is at ease with himself. And that requires greatness of a kind that is far from ordinary.
And yet it is this extraordinary virtue of simplicity that deep inside we desire for ourselves and envy in others. The reason we don’t cultivate simplicity is that we think the price to be paid would be too high. We think it would be too risky, and may involve a great loss of some kind.
In the spiritual world especially, simplicity is married to profundity. Simplicity and profundity are a made-for-each-other couple. Deep insights have come to those who have cultivated simplicity in their spiritual lives. G.K Chesterton is an example of someone who was simple and profound at the same time. He expressed a simple and profound spiritual truth when he once said, “A man is tallest when he kneels.”
Another simple and profound statement comes from that spiritual giant, Thomas Kempis. “Truth speaks from within without the noise of words.”
In the New Testament, John the Baptist, when reflecting on his role of merely being the forerunner to the Messiah, said, when Jesus appeared on the scene, that now “He must increase, and I must decrease.”
As we grow in grace in the spiritual life, we develop a deep admiration for those who “risk” simplicity as a way of life. But the great thing about simplicity is that it is accessible to all, and the benefits far exceed the cost. Provided we are willing to be honest and humble enough to admit our need for it.