The Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts” (Joseph Brackett) is deceptively simple. The melody and harmony lines are uncomplicated. The verses are sweet but speak to deeper meanings. The original and additional verses speak to my life over various times, especially post accident.
The original version was written as a dancing song.
‘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 thr place just right, ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed. To turn, turn, will be out delight. Until by turning, turning we come ’round right.
After the accident, I gained confusion and fear not simplicity. Life was complicated and I lost all sense of peace and freedom. I was locked in a mind and body that just didn’t work right anymore. In a job that didn’t fit and fighting to try to gain my life back. I fought to hard to be the place I was before. I missed the place “I ought to be.” My life changed. I needed to change with it. As I find the simple gift of being free of trying to be who I am no longer, the gift to let go of fear, to be, I gain a larger gift of peace, love, and delight. Such as the full moon, the stars, the winds, friends, family, running…just being who I am. There is no shame in who I am now. To lose much of my mental intelligence was humbling. Being intelligent and talented was important before. I have to accept the changes and realize with humility, I am different, with different things I can do. I have To keep turning away from negativity and fear until I come ’round right. Humility is something often seen as weakness. It is truly seeing who you are, strengths and weaknesses and loving yourself anyway. And being willing to change and grow.
We all have the moments of needing to be humble and turn our lives in a different direction. Sometimes, it takes a thump on the head to get our attention. I hope you listen better than I did.
One alternate version speaks of love and relationships.
‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return. ‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn. And when we expect from others what we try to live each day, then we’ll all live together and all learn to say:
‘Tis the gift to have friends and true friend to be. ‘Tis the gift to think of others and not only think of “me.” And when we hear from others what they really think and really feel, then we’ll all live together with a love that is real.
Things we should have learned in grade school that would make the world and our lives much better: Learn, teach, listen, respect, honesty, putting others in front of yourself. Friendship is a balance between give and receive. Friends love and support each other. One does not take more that you give back. Balance. Community and relationships are work. We have to hear from others bravely, and they must speak truely and with respect. Then, you can build on the foundation.
Simplicity is hard, as challenging in some ways as our daily complicated, “meaningful” lives.
Love is found in simplicity. There are two additional verses I’ll talk about later.