"Plain living could be considered a form of "self-denial."...We might think of the practice of self-denial embodied as the pinch-penny, the party-pooper, the censorious grinch, the snarky, self-righteous authority who wants to deny everyone else's self along with his or her own. Perhaps there should be a new phrase, for in common speech, "self-denial" seems to mean self-punishment or even self-hater a method of manipulating or oppressing others and to have lost whatever positive connotations it once had. We are often urged to indulge ourselves, not deny ourselves. Yet to me, the discipline involved in plain living, and moving towards sustainable living, inextricably connects with nurturing the seed within. Plants can't grow in toxic conditions; neither do they grow because you will them to. Gardening requires watchfulness and love, requires watering, weed-pulling, daily care and attention. The self is not being denied so much as the identity, as expressed in one's way of life, is changing to reflect the growth of the spiritual self, the seed, the kingdom of God. It is a journeying towards communion with God, moving past distractions, and involves understanding the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things as what they are engines of unhappiness. Forced good behaviour constitutes oppression and repression, but as Gandhi points out, good behaviour undertaken through love is a way towards true freedom. One walks a new path, practicing self-denial in a positive sense that connects inner and outer worlds."
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Illustration 1955; George Hughes, "Put the Tree There?"