Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Simple Days

Floss commented a while back on her blog that she has learned much from the writings of those who are not committed Christians, and I think she has made a valid point. It is arrogant of us to speak and act as if Christians have a monopoly on ‘wisdom’- and to restrict God by assuming He cannot teach us through the words of any man or woman He chooses, whether or not they share our faith.

jelly mouldFurthermore, whilst I agree wholeheartedly with Paul’s words to the Romans “Do not let the world squeeze you into its mould” [Romans 12:2, Phillips Translation] I don’t think that we should stop using our brains, and let ourselves instead be forced into identical evan-geli-moulds

So last week, when I was looking at the secondhand books in Fakenham Parish Church [it is every Thursday market day – and they serve good coffee and cakes] I picked this volume up for just 10p


The blurb says “When Marlene Schiwy decided to simplify her life, she didn’t….follow Thoreau…grow organic veg or keep bees…she didn’t subscribe to any of the ‘gimmicks’. She started by simply paying attention to what mattered most – what filled a need, what was just clutter. She kept a journal and explored essential questions like – how do you balance career, family, self? can you reconcile modern life with yearning for serenity? what role does money play?”

Schiwy grew up in Canada in a tight-knit German Baptist Immigrant community, came to England to study, and then settled in New York with her husband Steve – he’s a writer, she teaches part-time [and she also writes] She enjoys cooking and sewing and good coffee.

So already I feel I have much in common with this woman…

I got through the book in one day [oh the joy of being on holiday and being a very fast reader] and found a lot in it which chimed with my own thoughts. When she became an adult, she rejected the faith of her parents, but still held fast to many of the strong moral values they had taught her as a child. Furthermore, she clearly retained a really good, loving relationship with her family – and a lot of the journal details the plans she is making with Steve to move across to a new life near them in British Columbia.

I liked the book for her honesty, her willingness to admit when she’d got things wrong, and her joy when things were ‘just right’. It is a journal – so she describes [with recipes!] the muffins she makes for the members of her writing group, and the breakfast breads she bakes to enjoy with Steve. She talks about what she does, as well as about what she is thinking. She quotes extensively from other earlier writers [such as Thoreau] who have penned treatises on ‘Simplicity’.

Moment of sudden guilt feelings on my part – am I the ONLY woman left in blogland who has yet to read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift From the Sea”? Please tell me I’m not alone!

At the end of the book, after her journal, she gives suggestions about writing your own journal about simple living, with helpful questions.

A couple of comments –

  1. she wrote it ten years ago, in notebooks rather than on a Word Processor, and the Internet doesn’t really feature. Not sure I can cope with giving up technology like that!
  2. occasionally I found myself thinking ‘but that is obvious – have you only just realised it?!’. But I suppose we all come to understand different things at different times, and should not take our readers for granted.
  3. the previous owner had underlined passages which mattered to her/him. [up to page 27 anyway – why did they stop then?] I want to rub out these annotations and read the book again,making my own notes when I get home. Then I shall comment again about the book, when I feel I have digested it properly.

But if you see this book for 10p in a charity shop or bookstall, do pick it up! I think it is much better than Judith Levine’s “Not Buying It” [reviewed here] And I loved the blue cover.


  1. This is excatly what Alan and I have been discussing- I suppose through the necessity of my teaching salary about to finish this month- we're calling it the Year of Living Small, and I'm going to put a little Mr Small picture on fraise and link to this post, when I get there!

  2. Good morning, Angela. There's lots to think about in this post, so I'll read it again and think some more.
    No, you are not the only one not to have read Ann Morrow Lindbergh's book!

  3. I haven't read the Sea book either! Obviously I think I will one of these days... And now you've given me another one to look out for! Thanks - I really appreciate reading your thoughts on what I mentioned, too.

  4. I hadn't even HEARD of Ann Morrow Lindbergh...
    (so now you can feel alot better ;-) )

  5. That makes at least four of us then. Thank you, I feel better now!
    why wont blogger let me post as myself? this is MY blog after all!!

  6. I have felt much the same about another book about simplicity, but, unfortunately, it is buried in stacks of books at the moment. Hubs needed another shelf in his office, but he's finishing another one for me to use in the parsonage. When I get the new shelf up and loaded, I'll send you the title. You might enjoy it as well. ~Liz

  7. Found it! Nothing Left Over, by Toinette Lippe.

  8. Hello Angela, This is my first peek at your blog and am really enjoying it. I definitely will be back for visits. I also have not read "Gift from the Sea". I did check with our virtual libary and found a audio download for my computer. Plan on taking a rest (as I have a respiratory infection) and listening to it now. Thanks so much!

  9. I am another one who hasn't yet read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift From the Sea”, have heard it mentioned before though.

  10. This book is not for women only. I found myself highlighting passages I wanted to go back to ponder again. I read the book in one sitting. I didn't want to put it down. This book is for anyone who is living the examined life and for anyone in relationship.


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