Spirit-led Restraint

Friends believe in simple living. This has historically meant simple dress, plain speech, and unadorned meeting houses for worship. Through the simplicity testimony, Friends encourage one another to look beyond the outward and to the inward.

In contemporary terms, Friends try to live lives in which activities and possessions do not get in the way of open and unencumbered communication with others and with one’s own spirituality. Clearing away the clutter makes it easier to hear the “still small voice” within.

At AFSC, the commitment to simplicity calls us to speak plainly and go directly to the heart of the matter. However, simplicity does not mean being simplistic. We value nuance and choose words carefully when we speak. We may speak passionately, but we avoid distortion and exaggeration.

In our work, simplicity requires focusing our efforts on what is most important rather than diffusing our energies too broadly. In our personal lives, simplicity may mean limiting our consumerism—and resisting over-commitment, so that we have time to care for ourselves and to be present with one another.

Quotes

Living simply is the right ordering of our lives and priorities.
LEONARD KENWORTHY, QUAKER AID WORKER

May we look upon our treasure, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try to discover whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions.
JOHN WOOLMAN, QUAKER AUTHOR

There is enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.
OHANDAS K. GANDHI, INDIAN INDEPENDENCE LEADER

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.
HANS HOFMANN, PAINTER

Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
ALBERT EINSTEIN, PHYSICIST

Queries

Does the way I spend my time make the best possible contribution to my work?

How might I communicate with more honesty, clarity, and simplicity?

How do I take time to renew myself?

Do I know when to say no to work I cannot adequately attend to?

How can I be more thoughtful about what I need and what I acquire?