May 4, 2016: Living Life Simply

~by Susi Pittman

All has been stripped away. I have been to the desert and back…my soul transmuted anew in an indescribable peace with simplicity.

Who of us could have possibly written the script of our life? How could we have possibly foreseen the events and encounters that would mold us and make us who we are today?

The recent ten years have been a winding and rolling tapestry of constant change. Change that circumvented my personal peace, calling me into a no-man’s land, thwarting much of what I claimed to be important to my very being. An affluent lifestyle, privileged, protected, self-indulgent, and yet in a particular way, still living in a way I thought was faithful to my Catholic beliefs.

Within a four-year period, I lost my beautiful mother, my gregarious father and my beloved husband. I spent 10 excruciating months by my husband’s side, watching him fight the terrible cancer that claimed his life…a continual process of smiles and prayers and memories shared…amidst a gauntlet of doctors and treatments. There was a huge financial loss. Friends fell by the wayside; there was a disconnect from social gatherings; to a certain extent I even distanced myself from my daughter and her family; I became an island; I sought out solitude; I looked for a new purpose, but on my terms; it was the beginning of crossing a vast spiritual desert.

The first oasis I arrived at was the writing of my book, Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want To Know! Tucked away in the Appalachians it came to fruition in a quiet cabin with my dog Buddy at my side. The publishing and marketing of this inspired book was filled with a myriad of decisions, I learned so much on the journey. There are really beautiful souls in the world who supported me and there were certainly dark faces that lay in wait for my naïveté. And I learned from it.

The second oasis came after having fought the good fight to save our home, the bank foreclosed on it and caused me to seek refuge in new surroundings, in a new state and living with my sister. I had to open up and share, step out of myself and become a loving asset instead of a withdrawn liability. It was by this time that my animal rescue’s had grown in numbers and much of what I did involved working to care for the “thrown away” creatures that no one wanted. I could relate. I was a victim of my own self-wallowing in personal pity. And I learned from it.

The third oasis was reached as I returned back to Florida to join my daughter and her family in their new life, having moved back to our old hometown. It was a homecoming in so many ways. I looked to embrace my little family with a new spirit of love. One that accepts each of those near and dear to me, warts and all! I truly appreciated their patience and found new ways to share my gratefulness and joy in action and in word. I opened up again to friends and life and the beauty that exists in the creation about me. And I learned from it.

I have crossed the desert and learned from it.

My soul feels more complete than it ever has, yet still so new in its knowledge. In my contemplative and spiritual journey, I found Jesus waiting at each oasis, resting upon the biggest rock blocking my journey and He spoke to my heart with great love. Each time, I would lie my head upon His sandaled feet and beg His forgiveness, asking for the wisdom to grow nearer to Him, letting go of me and learning to trust His love. And I learned from it.

What have I learned?

I have found that what matters most is living life simply. I am a stranger in a strange land on a journey in search of my homeland. I am to live this life loving those that come into it and to care for my temporary surroundings with the greatest of stewardship.

Living simply has allowed me to trust in Divine Providence, to know that I am not an orphan! That I have a loving Father that will never leave me destitute and asks only that I leave my will behind and embrace His. My life moves on God’s terms now. That there is an obtainable peace in all situations if our love to serve the One God goes far beyond the lip service given Him in a moment of crisis.

Living simply requires embracing the vastness of humanity and its problems and seeking reconciliation through Christ, leaving that quiet circle behind and being a witness for good and virtuous living. Every day a promise.

Living simply requires humility without question. Humility plants the soul firmly upon the ground, allowing me to know that the gifts given me by God are divine gifts and they are my link between this life and Jesus. Being small is beautiful! Humility respects the human scale of things, working with mustard seeds and happy to await the results.

Living simply has allowed me give up the material world about me and to clean myself in the beauty of nothingness. My soul is transparent and continually seeks the mercy of my loving God.

My material life is tenuous at best, but not to worry, my spiritual life is a fortress. With spiritual eyes I have learned to see the natural realm not as “nature,“ but as my personal family of “creation.” All that surrounds me IS loved and wanted by God who recreates anew His creation at each moment. My Faith, my family, my work with animals, my website, my writing, my contemplative prayer, all are gifts, all are my continued work before God.

The life I had ten years ago is like the skeleton of a dead animal upon the desert I have crossed. A desert that I thank God for allowing me to suffer through and embrace.

Now, there is a peace in my life that founds my days and I see the first lights of the dawning of the kingdom of God.


Susi Pittman is founder of and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference;
a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.



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