Minimalism and Lent

Netflix is currently showing, Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things. Though a lot of air time was given to young millennial men who had walked away from corporate jobs and embraced living out of a backpack or in a tiny house, there was a small portion of the film that drew the circle a bit wider. We saw a glimpse of one young family with two children and several couples who were all attempting to live a simple life defined by less stuff. Stuff that has created a burden rather than happiness. The film suggests that chasing the “American dream” has the potential to suck the life right out of your life; it is a misguided pursuit.

Maybe the minimalist approach holds truths for the spiritual journey as well. Let’s confess – it is Lent after all – we can do a pretty good job of busying ourselves in a way that doesn’t always nourish us. We can fill our lives full of good and holy things and yet still crawl into bed each night with an aching sense of emptiness. We create massive clogs that prevent us from listening deeply to our own hearts and to the heart of God.

This Ash Wednesday, the words from the prophet Joel keep calling to me – “return to God with your whole heart”(Joel 2.12). How do we do that? Maybe the wisdom of the minimalist approach hints at it by inviting us to create some spaciousness in our lives. When we carve out additional space for simply being, then we begin to balance out all the doing. When we give ourselves permission to let go of things, even spiritual practices, that no longer land us in the lap of God, then we clear out some of the clutter that clogs the life-giving flow. And maybe in that spaciousness we’ll hear more clearly our deep longing for divine Love and the Loving One’s deep love for us.

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