Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Prophetic Simplicity and the Buddy System
Simplicity and Minimalism taunt me these days. This pair of philosophers has quietly demanded my attention for years, but the noise of the world generated by Commercialism, More-ism, and Busy-ism drowns them out. I sit in a new house--spacious and beautiful--packed full of junk that weighs my family down, clutters my vision, and sucks my time with its need for containment.
I don't have a home yet; I have an extremely expensive and messy storage unit we're slowly purchasing from the bank at an extremely attractive interest rate.
What we need is a home, a place of rest and refreshment for our souls.
Whatever is a girl to do?
Pair up with a buddy and pray, that's what.
My friend Liz and I are praying for each other. She wants to de-clutter and has made a good start with her garden, pulling out plants that were overgrown and choking each other. An overgrown garden. What a metaphor for the cluttered life, don't you think? I've taken car-loads to Salvation Army and will take many more as I slowly chip away at the clutter and junk.
Both Liz and I struggle with letting go of sentimental objects...you know, the stuff that belonged to loved ones, especially those who have died; the stuff given to us by loved ones; stuff that was once useful but now, not so much; the stuff others give us as they clean out their own junk. Liz and I are specifically praying for strength in dealing with these things, in letting go of them in healthy ways. Divine intervention, we feel, is necessary.
I've been on the lookout for inspiration in our quest to declutter our lives, and I have found two things in the past week that I want to share with you.
First, Sundays in the Storage Unit is a blog about clearing out a dead man's things. Two daughters, Sarah and Rachel, moved all their dad's stuff into a storage unit after his death, and on Sundays they work at cleaning it out. Their father was a hoarder, and it's a big job. I find inspiration from Sarah's writing, not only in her courage to let her dad's things go, but in recognizing the burden placed on loved ones when we have too much stuff.
Do I want a loved one to spend weeks, months, or years feeling obligated to sort through the detritus of my life? Do I want them to angrily and resentfully shell out money having it all hauled to the dump?
Sarah's journey inspires me and motivates me. If you're struggling to let go of stuff, perhaps she will inspire and motivate you, too.
The second bit of inspiration I found in quite an unexpected place: the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was an Old Testament prophet, quite your stereotypical gloom-and-doom guy. He said things like "circumcise yourselves to the Lord and take away the foreskin of your heart." That metaphor conjures images I'd rather not carry around in my head, which is why I share them with you. Take the images, please!
Besides, if I circumcised my heart, I'd probably put the foreskin in a jar of formaldehyde and keep it in a storage bin with my children's and dogs' lost teeth. Ewww.
Anyway, Jeremiah also said, "Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls."
Jeremiah surely didn't have my overload of junk in mind when he said this, but it struck me forcibly as a tidy summation of where I'm at right now. I've been thinking a lot lately of what people possessed centuries ago, as well as what I possessed as a child (which sometime seems centuries ago).
The ancient paths, I think, were simpler. My childhood possessions fit nicely into a rather small closet, easily organized and lovingly tended. They were not a burden, but a blessing. The Hebrews carried what they needed on their backs through the wilderness until they settled and grew strong as a nation and Jeremiah had to come along to tell them that their greed and covetousness were leading them to destruction.
God, through Jeremiah, laments the loss of His old tabernacle...the nomadic tent that was God's dwelling place while Moses led the Hebrews around the desert. Solomon's magnificent temple, with deep foundations rooting it firmly in Jerusalem, had become a den of wickedness, too full of treasure to have room for God, whose home it was.
See. Jeremiah is relevant to my current situation. When I think of home, I think of rest and peace and laughter and joy and lightness and comfort and warmth...a place to rest my soul and where others I love may also find rest and refreshment.
George and I sat outside on our patio this weekend, reveling in the simplicity and openness of our green grass. There is nothing in our back yard but grass...trees ring the right side and back of the lot, but the yard itself is simply grass...peaceful, natural, uncluttered.
Then I walked inside the house and saw chaos. The contrast was overwhelming.
If you would like to join me and Liz in our prayerful campaign of decluttering, if you would like to make room for what is important in your life, please leave a comment on this post. If enough of you are interested, I will create a place on the blog where we can gather whatever sources of inspiration we can find for this journey. Also, please share your own stories of letting go and finding rest for your soul in your own home.
I, for one, can use all the help I can get.