Those words by Thoreau still move us and call us to reflect on the basic values of life. How easily those words are forgotten in the frenzy of living, but when they come back to us in some form or other, they make us stop and turn as if someone whispered our name out of the void.
Scripture says the prophet Elijah did not find God in a terrible wind or a thundering earthquake or a raging fire, but in a “still, small voice.” Life is chaos, a din of machines and voices and images. Our moments aren’t felt anymore, they aren’t noticed - they burn up in the exhaust of haste. Get on to the next project, move toward more, win something, produce, carve our image into the mountain of life.
Where is God? He is back in the moments.
Simplifying takes as much purpose as our business plan. Thoreau knew that his readers could not chuck their lives and live in the woods, but he also knew that life would keep accelerating. Men and women on their death beds know this. They remind us to live deliberately, to simplify, to focus on what really matters, to stop creating gods of ourselves. God reminds us of this. And he calls us in a still, small voice back to the moments - a place of slowing down and no distraction where we can hear Him speak.