Minimalist Safety: Story For a Cluttered World

I traveled with a friend one day to visit a woman healer in a village at the edge of the Kalahari.  She received us eagerly as we chattered about her late father, a prominent bishop whose mantle she had taken up.  She set out some hand-crafted folding chairs slung with strips of cowhide of a kind frequently seen at the village court. Then she began to pour cups of a local herbal tea, rooibos, with goat’s milk and generously sweetened.

The puff adder is perhaps the commonest and most feared venomous snake of southern Africa.  One of the nastiest of vipers, and known to find habitat even in settled areas, it is bad-tempered and frequently aggressive.  photo credit: wikimedia commons  

As we sipped the tea, the healer apologized for the scant furnishings in her home: bare walls, a small kitchen cupboard, a single candle in the windowsill, a wash basin and small stove.  She herself sat cross-legged on the floor.  My friend reproached her for her embarrassment with a homely story:  on a drowsy afternoon in the shanty town where he lived, a snake was seen slithering into his living room. Jolted to full wakefulness, the household set about feverishly to evict this unwelcome guest.  But first they confronted a wearisome task – to drag from the cluttered room every bit of overstuffed furniture where the snake might be hiding.  He could never again take pleasure in an over-furnished house, my friend concluded.  

Better – far safer – to live in uncluttered surroundings.  

14 thoughts on “Minimalist Safety: Story For a Cluttered World

  1. I love this! So true! The pandemic has taught me many things. I don’t need to shop so much. I need to clear out & give to those in need♥️
    Very well put! Thank you, Caroline


  2. Hahaaa. Tanki Rra. As a Motswana from Ramotswa I’m humbled by the simple life style, the warmth and the love this family has. Thank you for having introduced me to the Bolokwe family. I love your strories.


  3. Thanks for the story and timely reminder of the value of simplicity. It brings two memories to mind. One of the things I hold dear about Botswana is sipping smoky tasting tea by the fire. The other, not so dear, is my encounter with a young mamba in my living room in the Congo .I survived, the snake did not.


  4. When I first moved in to the house that would become my adoptive second home in Nepal, it was one room with an adjoining kitchen (too narrow to extend both American arms side to side) and an attic (just tall enough to stand up in). A few years later, a new “big” room was built with a few beds and a dresser in it. One day Aamaa and I were cleaning for the Festival of Dashain. She looked around the big room with all its piles of surwals and discarded doctors notes and grain sifting pans and suddenly exlaimed: “NO MATTER HOW BIG THIS HOUSE GETS, IT FILLS UP WITH CRAP AND GETS TOO SMALL!!”
    It still tickles me as one of the most universal, re-locatable moments in 18 years of rural-Nepal-ing. 🙂


  5. I love this story. We are currently getting rid of items in our home. I don’t like clutter and this story has encouraged me more. I’m also thinking how we allow spiritual clutter, things can sneak in and hide. We have Jesus to wash us clean.
    ♥️The Glover Family


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