Thursday, February 11, 2010

Clearing Out -- Part III

In his chapter 12, on "Frugality in Married Life", Father Dubay busts people like me who start wondering exactly where the whole thing is going and skip to the practical suggestions. He says he can understand the desire, but encourages readers to "begin at the beginning, a very good place to start". Without that beginning, they are likely to misunderstand and misapply the more nitty-gritty guidelines he gives in this chapter.

I was feeling that sort of spacy way I get when I've been doing too much analyzing and theorizing, so that's why I skipped ahead. However, I think he's right and I'm going to at least have to study chapters 6 through 9 before I get to the married life part, because those are part of the base for his recommendations.

While I was deciding this something occurred to me, and that was that a lot of believers heard the Gospel message "sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and follow Me"; all of Matthew 6; James 2: 14-17; and many more, and they very simply and practically and fervently, and often very creatively, went and lived this.

So Father Dubay's message, while he has written a whole book, is in its essence very simple. And this is something he points out again and again -- that the gospel message is simple, clear, and often repeated. We don't have to philosophize to live it. You can just start somewhere, and see where it goes.

While I was thinking about that, I was thinking that all my going-out-of-the-house bags are really just preliminaries. I'm not sharing or sparing, really. I'm just clearing the ground at the moment, doing the equivalent of clearing a field to get ready to plow and sow (or rather, allow God to do that part of it). At least, that's what I pray and intend I'm doing. Who knows what mixed motives are part of it? I'll have to let God show me the weeds to pull.

Sure, I'm giving some of the stuff away to thrift stores. Maybe it is helping the poor a bit. I hope so. But certainly it's not the sort of thing needed by destitute people.... old toys, clothes, books, some kitchenware. Getting rid of it helps me, probably, more than anyone else.

The other stuff -- broken, ragged or obsolete stuff-- wouldn't even be accepted at a thrift store. I have to toss that. It doesn't spare the earth, but neither does holding onto it.

I woke up thinking this morning that very often this house has been a "last stop" for things that are almost ready to be junked. Some of it has been very helpful. I have furniture from the 50's, sheets almost as old. Bottom line is -- when we really can use it and it still has some life in it, it is probably worth accepting. But if we don't need it or it's on its last legs it probably should be turned away politely. Old things, unlike old people, don't need charity or hospitality.

So maybe that's another way "things" can clutter one's mind -- by displacing the compassion and warmth meant to be focused towards people? Just thinking.

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