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Vol. 9 - Simplicity
March 08, 2011

Warm greetings to you! In this edition of Refresh Your Soul:
Toward Jerusalem: Reflective thought for Lent
Spiritual direction at Eliagg

a not-so-simple practice

Are you, like me, wondering how the season changed so quickly from Christmas to Easter? What, Easter already?! Yes tomorrow marks the beginning of Lent, the traditional forty days of fasting (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter Day.

Months pass quickly when our lives are packed with activity and responsibility. You might, like me, recognize that your well-being suffers from time to time from too much activity.

Lent is traditionally a time to practice abstinence. Simplicity, my chosen theme for the year, fits well within this season. Like fasting, simplicity involves a laying aside excesses—of unnecessary activity, purchases or words—in order to create space to respond to God.

Fasting and simplicity aren't things which have merit in themselves, but by choosing to abstain from things which prop us up or work against our well-being, we act to increase our sense of dependency upon God.

You might wonder how I have done at practising this virtue so far this year. I wish I could give you a shining report. Repeatedly I've come up against myself, faced with my propensity to overfill my days. But believing that God’s grace is new every morning, tomorrow I will make a fresh start.

Along the way, though, I have learned a secret to success: simplicity boils down to single-mindedness. Considering two questions is helping me in this. Whom do I desire to please with my schedule and my choices? What sources are pressuring me-from within or without—to get off track from what I truly desire?

I’ve learned that I am most likely to live out simplicity when I first align my day with what is most important to me. So in the quiet hours--before the distractions or the frenzy of activity press in on me—I will be pulling away alone, for God waits there to speak with me. Becoming quiet, listening, reflecting and taking time to respond are essential practices which I am going to live with greater intention during this Lenten season.

Read my companion article, Oh the Simple Life at the Conversations Journal Blog.

Deeper Devotion News

Toward Jerusalem: Reflective thought for Lent

Experience has shown me that, when I approach Good Friday intentionally, I experience the celebration of the Atonement with more depth and fullness. This is the real beauty of Lent for me.

I have tried various approaches over the last few years, but the practice which has helped me the most is to journey with Jesus through the gospels as he makes his way toward Jerusalem.

Starting tomorrow and throughout the season I will offer (almost) daily reflective thought on the new Deeper Devotion Facebook Page.

I hope my reflections will enrich your own journey toward Easter. If you are not on Facebook, you can also follow at my blog.

Spiritual direction at Eliagg

On Saturday 05 March I joined the reception to celebrate the opening of the new building of the Christian counselling practice in Uithoorn. Eliagg is a cooperative of Christian therapists who work in seven different locations. With this move, the Uithoorn practice has expanded from two to four rooms, so there is ample space for me to work out of the office as well.

It was very enjoyable to meet the Eliagg team and to swap ideas of how we can complement each other's work.

I expect my client base in Uithoorn will include a growing number of pastors and Christian leaders. The real sweet spot of my field is coming alongside those who want to be intentional about the care of their souls, and who recognize the importance of spiritual practices for sustaining their ministries. A second group will likely be those who, after finishing a season of counselling, enter spiritual direction in order maintain the health of their souls.

I will continue to work primarily out of my home and will expand my days at the new location as the need develops. If you know of Christian leaders in Holland who might benefit from meeting with me, you may want to consider forwarding this e-letter to them or to connect them with me personally.

Wishing you a blessed Lenten season,

Elizabeth de Smaele
MMus, MDiv, CSD
Amstelveen, The Netherlands

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