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Reflecting on Simple Living – Advent 2023

by Sue Shea

The fourth JV value is simple living.  As written, it states “To facilitate lives grounded in spirituality, community, and social justice, Jesuit Volunteers live simply and intentionally, reducing the distraction of consumerism, materialism, and busyness.” 

Simple living looks different at different ages and stages in life.  When I was younger, I simplified by reducing.  At this stage in my life, I actually simplify by adding back.  For instance, this Advent season I hope to add back three four practices that I believe will simplify my journey. 

First, I hope to add back listening.  Listening is a practice that I find I hold to, then drift away from as days pass.  But listening causes me to slow down, to let go of my habit of thinking about how I’ll respond, and to generally stop all the complexities that go with communicating.  Listening simplifies my interactions with people— with nature— with God. 

Next, I hope to add back giving.  Not the holiday gifts type of giving —that’s complicated!  I hope to practice simple giving — Giving time to someone who needs help.  Giving encouragement to someone who is uncertain or afraid.  Giving my presence to someone who is alone.  Giving food to a hungry person.  Intentionally giving to others every time I am given an opportunity to do so. 

Lastly, I hope to add back respect. Respect is like listening for me—some times I do it, and sometimes I drift.  When I drift, I tend to like the role of judge… trying to figure out who is good, who is bad; who is right, who is wrong.  Adding back the practice of respect relieves me of the burden of judgment.   

Listening, giving, and respect.  I look forward to being intentional about these practices every day this Advent, to leaning in to the simplicity they will bring.   

Thanks much for the privilege of sharing my hopes with you during this program!  And thank you for all that you do for the communities you work with.  God bless you each and all this Advent season.  “Come, Lord, Jesus, Come!” 

Sue Shea is a JV EnCorps member in Bend, OR. JVE is our program for volunteers 50 and older who serve in their communities through the lens of our four core values. Sue volunteers 10 hours a week at the local St. Vincent de Paul.

Looking for Advent Resources? Our staff has compiled some you may find helpful here.

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