When I was in my mid to late 20's, it wasn't unusual to find myself on a long weekend away from home traveling to the desert, a developing urban area, or the Baja California coast of Mexico for plant collecting and archaeological discoveries. The Southern California coastal Indian and inland Indian cultures had a healthy trade route between themselves and along the coast. Political boundaries didn't exist then and people freely moved from one place to another, evidence of their passages found in the shared trade goods of the time.
While I studied mainly California Indian culture, I also had a passing study experience with the Mound Builders of the Mid-West and the South. The young woman I was then never imagined that 40 plus years later she would find herself married to a southern Missouri man and eventually would become friends with a woman who has a mound on land right next to her home and farm. Something old from my youth was imposing itself on my older years and I was fascinated. My mind is still alive to the lure of history and geography and I took up a brief study of the Mound Builder culture in this area. There is really nothing like a sense of history to solidify one's relationship to a place. No, I'm not from here but my story will become a little piece of what makes up the story of the Bootheel.
So, here I am today and touching "old" is affecting me in unforeseen ways. I talked about church community last week and the opportunities offered by my new community have led me to an interesting solution regarding my mindset of the place of clutter in my life, some of it really old.
The upside of my clutter is that when we moved, most of it got packed away, thereby making the Pirate very happy. Yes, some of it was tossed but on reflection, not nearly as much as needed to be. But, hey! I wasn't there yet. The downside is that it's still mostly all packed away nearly a year after arriving here. I really can't ignore it anymore. So, the solution is . . . ?
My attraction to Benedictine spiritually has been a presence in my life for several years and I'm now reading a book (written over a period of time in the 5th and 6th century) entitled, "The Rule of Saint Benedict". The reality of clutter (packed or otherwise) in my life has now reached the "I will not be ignored" stage. Between the early reading of the book and the imposition of the" old" from my younger years imposing itself on my new "old stuff" reality, I discovered quickly how simple decluttering could become.
Simplicity and orderliness lead to a calmness and opens pathways to God that might otherwise be blocked. I ask myself now how something makes me feel. Or, perhaps I ask myself how long it has been since I actually used the thing. When was the last time I even SAW it? Do I remember where I found it? Will I use it again? Is it one of those things always in the back of my mind interfering with my prayer life or, equally bad, interfering with my ability to enjoy my leisure. Ignoring a problem doesn't make a problem go away. It simply simmers until it gets bumped (accidentally, of course) and then it boils over.
All of my stuff is so old. I've had it for so long. Some of it is families treasures that have gone from one life to another and now me. These things will never go and eventually will be disbursed bu,t for the most part, I can get rid of at least half of the rest of it and never notice afterward.
Therefore, following a few ideas gleaned from my reading, I am now tackling the really old stuff in my physical day to day life. I find myself starting to feel ready to let go and all it took was a crazy journey of oddly disparate pieces of my life and their unexpected connectedness to get here. Yesterday I let go of a tablecloth. Painless, it was, when I accepted that it had no purpose and held no family history. If the rest of this process goes as painlessly, I will count the sweeping out of the unnecessary "old" as a success. The Pirate will thank me. My children will thank me, later. As you know, we all have a later. And, I will thank me because I have the satisfaction of knowing that I am doing something that is pleasing to the Lord as I let go of the material things weighing me down, thereby making more room for Him and for my little community I call my family.