Simplicity and Wisdom

Recently I came upon a book by Dietrich Bonhoeffer on my shelves that I bought at some distant time and had never read. When I realized that it was a book of daily meditations from his writings, I put it on my bedside table and have been reading a page every evening after I write in my gratitude journal, as I settle in for the night. Bonhoeffer, a minister and theologian, was an outspoken critic of the Nazi regime who was jailed by the Nazis and then executed in 1945 at the age of 39.

I often agree with what he wrote, but the July 22 entry stopped me in my tracks:

“Only the person who combines simplicity with wisdom can endure.  But what is simplicity? What is wisdom? How do the two become one? A person is simple who in the confusion, the distortion, and the inversion of all concepts keeps in sight only the single truth of God. This person has an undivided heart…. Because of knowing and having God, this person clings to the commandments, the judgment and the mercy of God that proceed anew each day from the mouth of God. Not fettered by principles but bound by love for God, this person is liberated from the problems and conflicts of ethical decision, and is no longer beset by them. This person belongs to God and to God’s will alone. The single-minded person does not also cast glances at the world while standing next to God and therefore is able, free, and unconstrained, to see the reality of the world.”

Undivided heart…..keeping in mind only the “single truth of God”…. bound by love for God….free and unconstrained. These four attributes describe a person with a deep relationship with God in which the boundaries of the person have been blurred and he or she no longer knows where God starts or where he or she begins.

This is how simple the task for us is: to have this kind of dynamic relationship, simply focused on God.

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