Several years ago one of my best friends gave me a little book called Simplify Your Life. I think it was her not-so-subtle way of suggesting I get rid of clutter. The book had instructions for how to simplify your closet, kitchen, office, garage, laundry room–all of it. It was great advice, really. And it worked to bring more order to my life. Since then I’ve tried to keep things simple, which is not an easy task when you have a husband, four kids, three dogs, and an assortment of cats and chickens, with a big house and yard. But I love the sense of peace order brings to a space.

I am not naturally simple with my stuff. I have a hard time getting rid of things I attach meaning to, which is most things. Plus I have my Granny’s sense of frugality, or maybe scarcity; this idea that I better keep something because I might need it one day. Even if I haven’t used it in years. You never know, I can hear my granny saying. The Simplify Your Life lady does not approve of this mentality. She wants you to throw it away.

For some time now I’ve been trying out this principle in other areas. Because just like I’m not simple with my stuff I’ve noticed I’m not very simple about a lot of things. My calendar gets cluttered with activity. My head gets cluttered with overthinking. My spiritual life gets cluttered with too much baggage–other people’s ideas, unanswerable questions, my own issues. There’s just so much. And yet, it seems, so little that really matters.

So I’ve been looking for the essence of Easter. Cleaning out the closet, if you will, and ditching all of the stuff that may be nice, interesting, or  appealing to someone else, but for me not really useful. I don’t want to argue about theology. I don’t even want to try to understand everything. I just want Easter in a nutshell, Easter distilled, Easter in its simplest form. I was thinking these things when I went on a walk with Grace the other day and we came across this on our path:

A small thing, really, but a perfect symbol of the essence of Easter. According to Matthew, Mark, and John, something like this was twisted into a ring and forced down on Jesus’s head. He took a beating, carried a cross, and died. In the name of love. As I held this branch of thorns in my hand it came to me. Easter in its simplest form = My life for yours. Click To Tweet

What does it look like to live this simple truth? For a family I know right now it means taking children who have no one else into their home. It means sickness, sleepless nights, seeing the weight of the world on a three year old’s shoulders. For my mother it means caring for a sister dying of cancer. For Dad it’s cultivating a garden. Sometimes it’s just Grace taking the time to read books to Stella, or Harper carrying in the groceries, or Adelaide gathering eggs. It’s Stone changing my oil. My brother finding ways to keep kids safe at school. Heathcliff bathing Hunter. It’s me on those rare occasions someone uses bad grammar but instead of correcting them I hold my tongue.

Just because something’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, sometimes the simplest things are the hardest. That may be why we bring on clutter in the first place–to avoid the bald, naked, difficult truths. But a simplified Easter is all the world really needs, and plenty of a challenge for us to practice, isn’t it. My life for yours, in a million ways big and small. Because of love.

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