Rediscover the Simple Gifts

'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.

-From The Simple Gifts (Shaker dancing song), Joseph Brackett (1797-1882)

As the holidays approach, many of us can be found frantically shopping, baking and cleaning, racing around exhausted, anxious and annoyed with others who, like us, crowd the stores and jam the roads.

Like fish swimming in the ocean looking for water, we pursue good will, peace and joy, not realizing they are instantly available if we pause for a few moments or hours to notice and appreciate all that we rush by or through and take for granted.

Bow and bend, and dance… even if it’s sugarplums dancing in our head. Cherish our loved ones. Extend our hands and our hearts with compassion, loving kindness, joy and equanimity, even to those that seem grouchy or at odds with themselves and the world.

The simple gifts, the best gifts, are already ours to find and unwrap upon waking each morning: the ability to work, good food to eat, clothes to wear, the laughter of family and friends, bright red cardinals on snow-dusted pine branches and the light and warmth of home... all waiting for us to rediscover daily, “till by turning, turning we come ‘round right.”

Andrea Minick Rudolph is the executive director of Oryoki Zendo, a nonprofit Zen Buddhist organization offering individual and group direction through mindfulness meditation, retreats, counseling and educational workshops, located at Mending Roots Wellness, 2138 Market St., in Camp Hill. For more information, call 717-514-3082, email or visit

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