Yesterday was my brother Phillip's birthday. He would have been 52 years old and as I think about his short time here, I think about his simplicity. He was a no frills sort of guy often just doing whatever came into his mind at the time. He was friendly and well liked and years ago I put together this memory from our childhood in a meditation of sorts and I share it in honor of his day. Well, a day late.
“She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged.”
Whether we envision the place made of wood or straw or stone, we can pretty well picture an area not exactly fit for a King. We imagine a simple area with a dirt floor and some straw and a few animals. The baby, our Savior, is wrapped in just enough to keep Him warm.
Not the brightest member of the family, our big, black Labrador retriever, Arthur, was loved by everyone. He wandered the hood almost as much as us kids and played ball with anyone who’d take the time to throw the mass of slobber that always hung from his mouth. My brother Phillip took upon himself the task of teaching Arthur to deliver our newspaper to our front door. With little success of convincing the dog to leave the ball and take the paper, Phillip decided to roll bologna inside the newspaper. For days, he’d drag Arthur to the end of the driveway to pick up the scent and grab the newspaper. Then, he’d drag him back to the front porch to the proper spot of delivery, rewarding him with the bologna wrapped inside the newspaper. A couple of training sessions and Arthur seemed to be just waiting for the paper boy to deliver our paper so he could show off his skills. And not just our paper, but half the neighborhood’s papers were delivered to our front porch. Training the beast that there was not a treat inside every paper in the hood was a slightly more difficult accomplishment. We redirected many newspapers back to their rightful owners for weeks until Arthur finally realized that the bologna was no longer the reward.
We learned early that great treats were often inside the simplest wrappings. We loved stories at the dinner table, building houses with decks of cards, family basketball games, seeing the foil expand as mom made jiffy pop popcorn, Easter egg hunts and probably most of all, family card games. Simple joys all wrapped up and sometimes hard to get to were the most rewarding.
Lord, the world today is constantly teaching that more is better. Teach me to live simply in Your love. From the simple wood manger to the simple wood cross, teach me Your small joys. Show me how to reap the greatest rewards out of the simplest tasks. Help me to be an example of cherishing time with others and of recognizing the great gifts You give wrapped in the simplest packages.
Pass It On: This week share with someone the simple things in life, such as, a long walk, fishing, a board game, an old movie or a hand written letter. Enjoy one another. Each day pray that some day, all man-kind can make room in their hearts for simple joy born to save.