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

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!

My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Selah

Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.

O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.

It's not lovely.

It's a mess.

This is really pushing my limits to see the divine in everything.

But I am reminded of a quote by the founder of osteopathic medicine, Andrew Taylor Still:

"A man dreads to give up his old boots for fear the new ones will pinch his feet."

That's how I feel about this, um...project.

It started two years ago, right about the time of the Kirksville tornado in 2009.

I've said this before--I tend to hoard things. I really have no "nesting" skills. Since moving here, it was sort of like my whole goal was to keep my house such a shambles that I could use it as an excuse to keep people out of it. I honestly don't care a hill of beans about sweeping, dusting, or cleaning. It's like I have an autism about it. I am happy just to live in the dirt and mess, and say, "Don't like it? Then don't come over."

But it was about that time I started meeting new friends on Facebook--interesting friends that I shared a certain spiritual depth with--and started visiting them. They were kind enough to let me stay in their homes as their guest. I would always go home, sad and morose, that, should they come to town, I could not return the favor. I didn't even HAVE a guest bed.

So, the evisceration started. Slowly at first.

I rented a dumpster. I started pitching stuff. It took me almost a year to even fill a dumpster. I kept going, "I can't throw this out! I can't throw that out!"

Over the winter, I talked to some friends outside of Kirksville about this. I didn't want to talk to hardly anyone in Kirksville about what I had in mind.

You see, I had decided to pretty much give most everything I own away--sell what was sellable at the auction house, and give away what probably would not bring much. I was afraid if too many people in Kirksville got wind of it, what I was doing might alarm people that possibly some of the issues I'd been dealing with had gotten to me to the point I was giving my stuff away in preparation to off myself or something.

So I did. I sold most of my various collections, I threw out three industrial-sized dumpster loads of stuff, and I gave away all my furniture (except for what is in the two rooms I am living in presently--and that will go later) to a victim support group. I tossed loads and loads of personal stuff--mementos and photos and little kitchy things--in the dumpster--in fact I wrote about this one, here.

Now the contractors are here, and 2/3 of my house is gutted, and it's not like I didn't know this is what would happen. But I find many places to still be stressed. My contractor asked me to pick a flooring pattern and paint. My friends who are into "nesting" have far, far too much to say about this. I am very afraid of women who have memorized the Benjamin Moore paint palette. I feel "selfish" somehow. I could have taken all this money and given it to the poor, or given it to the church, but I am caring for myself, here. This truly IS all about me.

I'm going to be really blunt here. My house is gutted, and I'm miserable, and even the dogs don't like the way the house is right now. Where is the divinization in THIS?

I'm also uncomfortable about my very small history of "what happens in my life when I remodel a house." The last time I did this, I only lived in the "new, improved" version for two years--and then I moved away from it--took the job in Kirksville I presently have. I think about all these uncertain things in my future--both things that I believe God is calling me to explore, and things that are not of my making--that all make for a very uncertain future for me. But I'm spending a wad of money fixing up my house. But I was a bit stuck there. The weird weather, the winds, and the rain did force the issue in some places. But don't think for a minute, that even though my experience is "N = 1," I do remember vividly what happened in the "1". I can think of that and feel absolutely covered in dread.

Well two things happened. One was I saw this article. I was reminded that our discomfort is natural. It's okay to be uncomfortable, because that is how God works in me. I am learning I don't have to dread every discomforting thing. I have had recent good successes in simply sticking with things--that Benedictine concept of "stability." I might be hunkered down in the whirlwind, but I am quiet and stable, and that counts for a lot.

I was reminded by my blog friend Lisa that I started this in the hopes of being more hospitable--so people had a place to stay--and to not lose sight of that. It's easy for me to lose sight. That's another place where that inner Benedictine in me has voice. I have changed in my attitude of hospitality. Some of this does come from a desire that my home be more hospitable to the visitor and the traveler.

Oh, in the grand scheme of things, I don't know what this means. But Ill keep plugging away at it, you know?


This is the SECOND post that I have read within an hour that refers to that piece. Honestly, nothing subtle about that!

Maria, you stayed at my house, a house I really feel uncomfortable about. It is always scary when I let people in... You have stayed here and so has Laura. Yet, I have such discomfort about that.

We do not have the resources to renovate and even if we did we would have such disagreement about what to do, it would take forever.

I laud you on what you are doing. It does not seem out of step but it seems monastic. You are preparing the abbey for its guests, that's all.

That of course, can bring up a lot of discomfort. Being who you truly are always does.

Brilliant piece, as always.

Give the dogs some love for me; they always get taken on the ride with us.

Well, for what it's worth, Fran, I was absolutely fine with the hospitality I got at your place! Good people, good conversations, good food, and love from Gracie!

The dogs are showing their displeasure to this in their own way. Boomer jumps up on the couch and will hardly let me sit on it without him being all "clingy." He won't even go into the gutted rooms. Little Eddie ventures in, but he gives it all a very disdainful look. "What iz dis? How come dere no pwace for a DOG to sleep in here?" Then he tears into the pile of dirty clothes to make himself feel better.

It will be interesting to see what they do when I start putting furniture and stuff back in there.

Dang --I admire you! Awesome. Finish the marathon, friend.... and what you write is that what is going on in the exterior is the result of the interior work you are doing. --that just dang hard work all the way around! God bless you!

What I would tell you, Margaret, is one continually becomes a metaphor for the other. It's weird like that.

Robert L. Costic said... June 2, 2011 at 3:54:00 PM CDT  

Know I am rushing in where angels fear to thread, but feel the need to defend your Facebook friends. Think you are short changing us. If they visit you, accept your hospitality, it is not to admire the fancy window treatments or the new granite countertops, but to spend time with you - to pat the donkeys, to walk the dogs, to look through your collection of memorabilia, to learn what made you you, and, most of all, to sit by the fireside and talk. And if you bed them down in the barn, on straw, and give them saddle blankets for covering, and leave them exposed to the torments of fleas, and horseflies, and mosquitoes all night, they would be content. The visit would still be a success. And your visitors would be telling their grandchildren till the day they died that "I once spent time with an eccentric, fascinating woman - she made me sleep in the mule barn - but, my, oh my, did we talk - did we have fun". Please, embrace yourself. Your friends do. To us you seemed just fine many long years ago - and so we are puzzled by your series of self-improvement projects. Hate to close on a pious cliche, but Jesus and your friends love you just as you are.
(Sorry, if I am being presumptuous. And I feel as if I had just raced through a minefield. Am sitting here, trembling, waiting to hear the explosion. But in justification, I have done exactly what the article that you linked to this post advises: I have gone to an uncomfortable place.)

Oh, I know people would be fine with it, Robert--and I realize "I'm fine with God"--but I also know sometimes we are called to be uncomfortable. There's that fine line between "content" and "complacent," and I think I'm exploring the edges of it's all ok!



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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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