A simple life. For three weeks, anyway.

I told my kids that this year we wouldn’t be taking a vacation–we would be going on an adventure instead! My family was blessed to have three entire weeks of vacation together and we chose to spend it camping in Newfoundland. Not only is it a beautiful place with wonderfully cool summer weather, but my father-in-law was born and raised there. I wanted my children to learn more about their heritage first-hand.

However….in order to fit six people, a tent, bedding, clothes, cooking equipment, a cooler and a dog into our little minivan (with a rooftop carrier), we had to do some serious planning.

We only had room for the essentials, and you would think that would make us uncomfortable. But it turned out that simple living was fantastic.

Cold? Put on your (only) sweater. Hungry? The cooler has ingredients for one meal in it. Tired? Your pillow is on the seat beside you. There were fewer decisions to make, less stuff to worry about, and an easy rhythm of eating, sleeping and sightseeing.

418 (683x1024)Getting down to just the basics helped us discover how much of our life at home is unnecessary. The girls looked beautiful with little more than shampoo and a comb. One-pot meals (and meals on a stick!) were delicious. Our bodies felt good when we went to bed with the sun and got up when it was light again.

Of course it was all an artificial simplicity. We couldn’t live in a tent or wear just one sweater in January’s cold and snow! Still, the contrast between our life on the road and our life at home gave me reason to pause. I live a life of tremendous privilege, with choices about what I buy, an entire closet full of clothes and enough possessions to fill a huge moving truck. Many others in the world own only what they can carry, or do not have the resources to buy even the necessities for themselves or their children.

So this fall, I am simplifying what I can–the clothes we wear, the furniture we have, even the schedules we keep. And I am doing it not just because it seems that simple is good for my wallet or my soul, but in an effort to swim against the tide of consumerism that is so strong in my part of the world.

095 (1024x683)The good folks of Newfoundland were a testament to how good life can be when it is simple. I could see it especially in their gardens. Stay tuned for more posts on the amazing ones I discovered on my journey!


About Kristine OBrien

Kristine O'Brien is minister at Trafalgar, Oakville, Ont. She blogs at The Blooming Reverend. Subscribe to this blog.