The primness of simplicity

We live in a culture of image and ostentation. Many people are convinced that the more they present themselves as well-groomed and composed, the more they dazzle, the more seductive and envied they will be in the eyes of others. But in reality, the most fascinating and difficult quality to achieve is simplicity, which is essential in human beings because they are the image and likeness of God. It has always seemed to me that the truest spirits are those in which God’s most sublime quality is reflected: His humility. When He became visible, everything was humble and simple. Our humble God “likes” the humble and small or, as someone calls them, the “little saints”.

Simplicity attracts by itself at a glance, and only the superficial take it for lack or vulgarity. If, for example, we are to highlight a precious pearl, it is best to place it in a sober frame, without other adornments that compete with it or hide it. It does not need to be placed among other realities or objects.

This is also true for human relationships. He who is truly simple is not pedantic, he is unaware of posturing, he spontaneously places himself on the same level as his interlocutors, but without hiding his inner treasure or making it disappear. Because it never leads him to “bury the talents he has received”, but to invest them without overwhelming or trampling.

This is what we find in Jesus’ way of thinking and relating to the poor, women and children, who were the most marginalised of his time. The freshness, freedom and cleanliness with which he looked at them and treated them stands out. Without any conceit, avoiding the limelight. In the same vein is the fact that almost all the most valuable and talented people have natural and easy mannerisms; although these same spontaneous mannerisms are considered as a sign of little value by the fatuous and arrogant.

The road to simplicity is well marked out. It is like a mountain to be climbed “down”. And it has two paths: a goat path, which goes straight up from the slope to the summit, steep, very hard, very steep; and a road path, which also goes up, but in zigzags, going round and round in a spiral.

The simple ones, the true saints, climb the goat path, leaving their skin on the corners of the rocks. They give everything at once, they live hour by hour in the tension of perfect love that leads them to strip themselves of all vanity and self-latry. And, not infrequently, to be unjustly censured as “simpletons”, without being so at all.

Simplicity always runs the risk of being confused with “vulgarity”, with banality, coarseness or poverty. For this reason, we are all in danger of making mistakes when we judge human realities.


Juan Carlos cmf

(PHOTO: Pablo Arroyo)


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