The Joy of Shedding “Stuff”
Dependence on God may be what is lacking in a society where consumerism and accumulation have become the root deseases of a world in which everything is not enough and nothing satisfies. — Joan Chittister from The Rule of Benedict: Insight for the Ages
Ever wonder why sometimes an item you purchase seems to lose its luster once you get it home? What looked so shiny, bright, and desirable on the shelf at your local big box now looks downright ordinary. The root desire that made you whip out your cash or credit card is still there — along with one more thing to clutter your closet or yet another knick-nack to dust.
Very few of us are immune to consumer cravings; in fact, I shudder to think of the amount of money, time, and energy I have wasted over the years on accumulation of really rather pointless “stuff.” Having pared down my possessions from a 2600 square foot parsonage to two carloads plus a few boxes in 2010, I also know the freedom that comes from unburdening oneself of excess accumulation. I learned a lot about needs and wants, about desires and whims. Unfortunately, I let the consumer creep poke its camel nose under my tent, and by the time we movedagain in 2011, it took a small U-Haul to transport our belongings. Granted, I purchased a couple of beds and some living room furniture that was too good to leave behind and that we could use in Pennsylvania, but a lot of what we transported was simply “stuff.”
“Stuff” can be a major distraction to living a life of thanks-living and purpose. When a person has to worry about his or her stuff instead of the people, relationships, and created order, one’s quality of life begins to be compromised. Focusing on and clinging to one’s “stuff” can also be a barrier to cultivating a strong relationship with the Creator of the universe.
Here’s the thing I have discovered and continue to discover afresh with each new day: shedding stuff contributes directly to joy in the present moment. Buddhists strive for “detachment,” believing that nothing lasts and therefore it is important to be attached to nothing. Christians believe that one should attach oneself to the only thing that matters. In the attachment to (and consequential dependence upon) Jesus, everything else then becomes detachable. Either way, shedding excess stuff becomes an opportunity rather than a burden, a joy rather than a pain.
Click here for a wonderful story about creative detachment posted on Francine Jay’s Miss Minimalist blog. It’s a story about honoring relationships, giving possessions, and being thankful. My appreciation to Heidi J for sharing her story.
Today I want to honor three women who gathered with me around the kitchen table to pray the night before I underwent surgery for breast cancer. Adrienne, Aileen, and Mary Beth — each in her own unique way — made the cancer journey bearable and even humorous. Adrienne was my rock, Aileen was my spiritual mentor, and Mary Beth was the friend who had already walked many tough miles with me and who with humor, compassion, Irish wit, and a Springer Spaniel named Fred (littermate to my boy Pete) held my hand and lent me her strength. Without them, I’m not sure I’d be where I am today. Thank you, lovely and wise ladies. You are amazing and wonderful.
Three more books will go to the Public Library for their book sale. I feel better knowing someone else will enjoy reading them, too. Hey, that’s three less books to collect dust!
I am particularly thankful today for my spouse. He is a partner in the truest and fullest sense of the word. With him each day is an adventure. He brings out the best in me, supports me when the going gets tough, never fails to make me laugh, and is just an all-around awesome person. Thanks, Rob, for being you.
And the Winner Is…
Congratulations to Gladys, whose name was drawn to receive my autographed copy of Lee Smith’s Fair and Tender Ladies.