Our adult Sunday School class has just started a study on simplicity and fasting. Jan Johnson states that "in simplicity we abstain from participating in activities and owning possessions that extraneous and do not further the purposes God has for us."
Here on Kwaj we are forced in many ways into simplicity with our possessions since there are so few stores here and so few opportunities to shop. Some people are champion online shoppers and many of us shop online regularly since the things we need are often not in our stores here. But shopping for fun or entertainment is nonexistent here. We are all in government housing so remodeling is not an issue and since none of us have cars on the island we don't talk about our cars.
While were talking about these common realities one woman brought up an issue that is key to simplicity: sharing. She told this story about how sharing is different here than in the States. She was out running before worship and one of her friends was baking for the women's lunch after worship and she ran out of flour. In the States one would go to the store and buy more, but here the store is closed on Sunday mornings so that isn't a viable option. She called her friend to borrow flour and got the answering machine so she went over. When she got there she found that her friend wasn't home so she went into the kitchen, got the flour she needed and then went home and left a message on the answering machine detailing why the flour was gone.
When the woman got home from her run she found that she had two messages on her machine detailing why she was out of flour. The odd part of that is that she was totally fine with it. In the States, it would seem weird or creepy but here it is fine. We live with a different set of boundaries and we are more open to sharing with each other since we don't have the luxury of being self sufficient like in the States.
We were commenting in class that our life here is teaching us lessons about sharing and simplicity. We recalled how easy it was in the States to let our lives be run by our stuff and our spending. It is amazing how life can be about stuff and how hard it is to learn to have a new relationship with things so that we can deepen our relationship with God.
This is a lesson I hope to take with me when we are living in the States again some day. It is interesting because Kim and I often comment about what we are learning through our life on Kwaj and this study is highlighting and deepening that learning.