this morning, i attended a memorial service for a former professor of mine whose love of picture books and children’s books of all kinds i was introduced to during my first semester of graduate school. the introduction to his memorial included a short slideshow of images from chris raschka’s simple gifts based on the shaker hymn of the same name that played in the background. i have heard this hymn and these words before, but in the spirit of this service and as a lasting legacy of this man, the words took on ever new meaning:
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.
simple as in attending to what’s in front of you, seeing what’s there without always dwelling on what is not; simple is not necessary without complication, challenge, multidimensionality, and never to be confused with something lacking thought or care; simple is care-full, full of the moment, humility and humor.
simplicity must also have something to do with the bigger questions that bind us together. how do we live? how do we love? what do we wonder? what makes us laugh? how do we live…individually…together…?