Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Clearing Out -- Part II

If my old stuff had little feet, I would be hearing lots of mad scurrying to get away from me. My boys were sick today so we had a light school day and videos, and in between, I sorted through several closets. Nothing is completely safe, though my philosophical and religious books and children's classics are breathing a bit easier than everything else, and I'm not planning to dump anything edible because these things get consumed very efficiently in the normal course of things.

I got rid of approximately 3 bags of trash -- counting the old papers and things my husband and I burned in the wood stove today. That brings the total up to 11. I can only get to the thrift store about once a week at most -- I have a lot more collected to give away but it will have to leave the house in installments.

Funny, though, it doesn't look any clearer -- at the moment it looks MORE cluttered, because everything is out of its usual place. The little junk gremlins are making themselves as ugly as possible, but that's all the better, because it increases my motivation to see them go.

I'm reading a book called The Family of Families (available at EWTN as a text file). It describes probable details from the Holy Family's life, drawing applications to marriages of today. It describes how a typical family of that time and place lived, and says:
Joseph's position as carpenter placed him in the respectable middle class of artisans. Judging from his occupation, he was not desperately poor, nor on the contrary could he be called wealthy.
Later on, Fr Filias writes about why Jesus was born in a cave, and speculates that perhaps God provided that Our Lord arrive earlier than his parents would have expected, so that He could share in the true poverty of some of His people.

While I was thinking about the Holy Family's simple life it suddenly struck me that they were a model of what Fr Dubay in Happy are You Poor calls "poverty" as opposed to destitution. Destitution is the daily reality of a majority of the people of the world who do not have sufficient food, clothing, or shelter. A Christian is not necessarily called to be destitute, though later on in the book he discusses those who do have a particular call to share in the lot of the truly poor. "Poor" is something different from destitute, though. He calls the Poverty concept "sparing/sharing" which seems to mean that we use less rather than more than our share of resources, and we try to give what we don't need to others who can use it better. If you have four scarves (which I do, actually) maybe you only need one or perhaps two. Perhaps someone else will get better use out of the two you rarely use anyway.

So I have been telling my possessions as they cringe away from me and my trash bags apprehensively -- that maybe they'll find a home where they are actually used, for a change.

Father Dubay's book is subtitled: The Simple Life and Spiritual Freedom. I think I did not really understand simplicity and freedom last time I read the book. I thought that naturally you'd have more freedom if you aren't without something you could use. It was like what Amy said, here. Being in want of something that might be good didn't seem like freedom to me.

But after years of "making do" just fine with what's immediately around me because I am not able to conveniently lay hands on the special little object or gadget that is exactly geared for that occasional need, I realize that this is NOT freedom. It's like having a bunch of mostly useless guests squatting in your household, making themselves scarce when you do need them, and getting in the way demanding their space when you are looking for something else. And it's not fair to them, either, because they can't help being superfluous. That's my fault, not theirs.

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