Letting Go

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Rocky Creek Farm (2014)

Lately, I have been feeling the need to simplify my life and settle my affairs – both materially and spiritually. This feeling may be related to the fact that I have as yet completed neither the updating of my will nor the projects I started for my spiritual legacy class. I keep asking myself:

What can I dispose of now that my family won’t have to deal with later?

What requires too much energy to sustain anymore?

In today’s Gospel story, a young man asks Jesus what more he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replies: Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then, come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21) We don’t know what the young man decided to do in the end, only that he went away sad because he had so many possessions. I can relate to that feeling.

All the material and spiritual baggage that I stored over the years sometimes weighs me down. With each household move that I made in the past, I took advantage of the opportunity to pare down my belongings and start fresh. However, the last major relocation is already seven years ago. I usually follow the rule that if I have not used something in a couple years, I let go of it – giving it away if it is still usable, throwing it away if not. (Why do I always think that someone else will want what I no longer do?)

This time, I am taking a serious look at those things that I have kept for more than 30 years: black-and-white negatives from my first photography courses, a favorite camel-hair winter coat that no longer fits, the bicycle that I no longer ride, postcards from art museums in places where I traveled, my books, etc. Yesterday, I had an unsettling experience with the winter coat and a couple other articles of clothing. I brought them to a consignment shop thinking that I would, as the Gospel says, sell them and give the money to the poor. The shop did not want my favorite things because they did not bear the appropriate designer labels! I felt I was also being judged by the clothing I wore into the shop. It was unsettling because I realized how many times I judge people on appearances and first impressions, and how many people must experience this kind of judgment every day.

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Wellfleet Harbor (2015)

The experience made me realize, too, that I even want to have a say in what happens to my favorite things when I die. Part of my unfinished estate business is the creation of a list of who should get my favorite things: the wall tapestries from Lesotho and Botswana, my books, my photographs, etc. I am beginning to see that it is not so much a gift to family and friends as an unwillingness to let go of material things that mean so much to me now.

It is not only material things that I need to let go. I am rethinking ways in which I spend my time, my current commitments, past events, and painful memories. Some memories need to be erased or allowed to fade. I have been filling my life with “projects” at church, spending more and more hours on them each week. Even though it is church work, it is not necessarily “God’s work.” I may be letting these commitments get in the way of my time to be with God. When I made a list of all the projects, I realized that they go way beyond what I was originally asked to do. My word for this week will be “Simplify”.

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2 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. I’M GLAD TO SEE YOU REALIZE IF YOU BURY YOURSELF IN TO MANY PROJECTS WHERE IS YOUR GOD WORK.  YOU ARE SO INTELLIGENT YOU CAN HELP SO MANY PEOPLE WITH GOD WORK. We are going to see Richard. Jane,me and our husbands are leaving sat. the 17th for a week.  He will go to a rehab. ctr to get stronger so he can walk and build up his strength. excuse the capitals I did not want to retype. Love to you .

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  2. Thanks for your message, epatrie. Today, because I was at home, I came face-to-face with two instances of “God Work” with my neighbors. Safe travels. Please give my love to Richard and family.

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