Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Right now, a "fifth wheel" 24 foot trailer is parked out at my place that belongs to one of my local auctioneer friends.

I have been filling it up with assorted crap that I have accumulated at auctions for nine years, as well as "things I don't use anymore" and "assorted stuff that has no value to me except as "sentimental possessions." So far I have the trailer a little more than half full.

When I went to the monastery, I spent a lot of time considering what my "jubilee year" was to be all about, what my slaves were that needed to be freed. The one that had started working on me before my trip was this sense that my life was too "cluttered".

I came to a Very Big Realization. (Ok, so maybe it was an epiphany, but that word seems much more "miraculous". I decided to opt for Very Big Realization.)

The thing that most gets in my way, is that I am a chronic "hoarder."

I hoard EVERYTHING-right down to surrounding myself with worthless possessions of low value to the point my three car garage can't hold a single vehicle, and my house is starting to look like one of those places so full of books, papers, and doodads that the stuff falls over and the occupant dies in the house and no one finds them for three days. I am almost sure I learned this from my Depression-era grandparents, who could not throw anything away. Couple that with the various difficulties I had growing up in a house full of strange expectations and alcohol-fueled dysfunction. I grew into a very strange addiction--the addiction of "never being without," the addiction of collecting things of low value so that if they were broken in drunken tirades, I was not "out much". I learned to insulate my own pain with cheap things bought at auctions and deep discounts, and the more I grew into my ability to generate income, this addiction has become more obvious.

I cannot buy one or two cans of soup--I buy six. I cannot buy one tool--I buy two. I can't remember the last time I ever bought "one" of anything at the store. I bought boxes and boxes of assorted crap at auctions simply to get the one item in the box I wanted, and instead of leaving the rest at the dumpster, I took it all home and piled it up "because there might be something I needed later."

Until I started this blog, I hoarded my thoughts and feelings. But something happened when I started blogging. I thank God for the evening I was sitting dejected on the church steps and got cornered by my priest and the then-Sr. Warden.

I was feeling incredibly "bound up" while my cousin J. was trying to get custody of two of his children. The three of us got to talking, and the suggestion to me was one word..."Write." I began to feel less bound up.

This "unbinding" began to work on me in strange ways, and I am grateful for the progress to date. But I would come home and hit a wall. I would notice how "unbound" I felt outdoors in my prayer time and how much more "binding" it felt praying indoors.

Then it dawned on me. Indoors, I am surrounded with piles of junk and things I "could not get rid of because I might need/read/eat/use it later." My soul can't run free because my physical existence is bound in piles and piles of crap.

I realized I HAD to "de-clutter". Not just inside, but de-clutter my world around me. I have a lot of changes I am going to have to weather soon in my work world. I have a lot of changes going on inside of me. In order to weather them, I needed to de-clutter. Period.

I thought a lot about "possessions" when I was at the monastery. Maybe it was because I was hanging out with people who kept their possessions to a minimum. I have never required "high dollar" things. I don't have a conspicuous consumption problem. But I realized that what insulates me also smothers me. I become "owned" by things. They control my physical space. They weigh me down. But they are attractive because when I own "too much", giving them to others is easy. "Here, take it...I have another at home. I don't need it." It is a "sham generosity." I don't have to do without to give you one of something I have five more at home.

Do we really "own" things anyway? We say, "I own my house, I own my car, I own my business." Nah...really, when you get right down to it, God owns all of it. But being surrounded by lots of stuff feeds the delusion it is "yours."

I had an interesting non-coincidence in reading "A Wing and a Prayer" for our book group. Two, really. One was on page 55, when Katherine Jefferts Schiori asks, "Have you ever known a hoarder, someone who has a clinical disease that makes it nearly impossible to throw anything away? As a hoarder's home fills up with newspapers, magazines, junk mail, old shoes and plastic food containers "that might be needed someday," life gets smaller and smaller."

The other was on page 72: "Clean out the attic, the garage, and the clutter, and see how much lighter you feel, how much more centered our life becomes. We surround ourselves with other kinds of excessive protection..." and goes on to talk about those.

She hints that depression is a part of this most often...but I am pretty sure that for me, this is more about change, and my anxieties that always surround change, and the realization that I tend to hide behind my clutter rather than accept change...again, an "insulator."

I just know that to get to the next phase of where my spiritual life is going, I have to give up a lot of "ownership". I have to give up many of the delusions of control that keep me bound up and unable to ease through the things of which I have no control. A lot of this is to strip myself of unneeded and meaningless possessions, getting down to the bare metal of what I really need to live fully...and so the evisceration begins.


You are the most courageous person I know.

Over the years as I got better at cleaning out the closets, I realized that there's great truth in the belief that God will provide. The obsessive hoarding "just in case" is (for me) an attempt to control every possible outcome in my life - to be prepared. As I took bag after bag of clothes to St. Vinnie's, as I give away stuff to whoever wants it - I remind myself that when I have the possible future need, God will find a way to ensure I have what I need. Right now there may be someone else who needs this now.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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