Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalm 27:11, 13-14 (AV)
A medical training carries the danger of glamourising the complex. The student is notoriously liable to remember the small print stuff, or to identify the sparrow as a canary. But even in medicine the great advances have often been simple. Cholera eradication in Britain is owed more to sewage control than to advances in bacteriology. Nowadays, economic factors prompt us to take decisions on priorities. The question changes from 'can we?' to 'should we?'
There is a general awareness of the forbiddingly complex nature of our society, and its vulnerability when one link in the chain is disrupted. Hence we see the rise of ecology parties, the development of cottage industries and disillusion with high technology.
The Christian also, for greater reasons, should aim to simplify life. He, more than any should take the 'long, cool view'. Why 'be with it'? Why complicate domestic or professional life? When we recall the 'ordinariness' of Jesus' life, it is little wonder that those who have done most for him have been those whose lives have been noted for their simplicity. Such a life will, to some degree, entail a deliberate withdrawal from the general trend - a retreat. The psalmist, before asking for a plain path, has already confessed his one desire to 'dwell in the house of the Lord'. We choose where we live, and in order to live in one place we have to withdraw from any other.
'A man must keep a little back shop where he can be himself without reserve. In solitude alone can he know true freedom.'
Lord, that I may learn of thee,
Give me true simplicity;
Wean my soul, and keep it low,
Willing thee alone to know.
Further reading: Pr 3:1-10. Phil 4:10-13.