23 February, 2009

On Feeling Old(er) and Having Less(ish)

I've been feeling a bit reflective lately - a confluence of momentously significant moments has left me so: I turned a year older (36, which isn't necessarily old for a pastor, but has officially aged me out of even the most liberal definition of "Young Adult"*), I just got back from a series of meetings in the Portland area (living out of a suitcase for a few days always has me feeling oddly semi-monastic), and Lent is well-neigh upon us.

During said reflectiveness, I've been thinking about how much stuff has accumulated in my life - physical stuff to be sure (basements are both a horror and a blessing for the hiding of stuff), but also non-physical stuff - the habits and practices of life that tend to accumulate like so many barnacles on the underside of my soul.**

My life feels cluttered. Unfocused. Diffused. (Not in the "weird hair dryer attachment" sense, but in the "scattered" sense.)

I think it's time to unclutter, to unburden myself from the stuff which seems so necessary in the moment, but which, upon further review, ain't.

So, one of my Lenten disciplines*** will be to get rid of one thing each day for the 40 days (not counting Sundays) of Lent. Mostly, this will be the physical stuff because: 1) it would be too easy to pretend to be getting rid of non-physical stuff - "Today, I have rid myself of the habit of eating too much ice cream before bedtime." - without 2) actually making any changes. ("Well, just this once, I could have a pint or two of Ben & Jerry's before bed...")

I think it'll be easy to get rid of stuff the first week or so - I have lots of underwear with holes (the extraneous kind, not the ones for my legs) that I've been meaning to dispatch anyway. But come Lenten Days 30-40, I might be struggling to find stuff to dump. It might even be, God forbid, hard. I might even, God forbid, want to quit. So, I'm going to try to list, at least weekly, on this here blogspot, what it is with which I have parted.

Hopefully, less stuff = a life lived with slightly more intention and care.

My theory is that the reflective act of deciding what I can rid myself of is the actual (semi-spiritual) cleansing. I know that it probably won't take long to re-accumulate the physical stuff. But maybe, oh just maybe, there will be some minor inching forward toward perfection**** as I realize how much I have and how much of that I don't need.

Failing that, at least I'll have a bit more space in my underwear drawer. And that's always nice.

much peace, much love, etc.

*according to the United Methodist Discipline, my standard for most every aspect of life.
**Perhaps for Lent I should give up tortured and unfunny similes.
***Jen and I have also covenanted to eat out only once per week and I'm participating in a church-wide, Lenten reading of the entire Gospel of Mark. But I should probably really consider the whole "tortured simile" thing. And my over-use of footnotes.
****That's right, I'm busting some Wesleyan theology on you. 10 Wesley-Nerd points if you caught it without the footnote.


  1. Good challenge - I'll do the same - but there's got to be a size minimum (I'm throwing out this spec of dust that I no longer need) or maybe a requirement that it actually has to belong to me personally (I'm throwing out my husband's holey t-shirt) or inanimate (throwing out my husband?) Hmm, this could be fun...

  2. The "has to belong to me" rule reminds me: Jen, my Beloved Wife, proposed that, if I thought we had too many clothes, we could have a day of throwing out the no longer worn stuff. She'd throw out mine that she thought were excess and I would do the same for her closet. I declined the offer, but feel free to take it up, Anonymous Commenter...