Sunday, August 25, 2013

Having a clear out...

I had some distressing words spoken to me yesterday that have been plaguing me, so this afternoon I took myself to the basement for a clear out.  I LOVE that phrase, discovered on As Time Goes By.  [The Brits really do have way better words, at times, for speaking things.]

Anyway, I have primarily written about this on Facebook, but over the past three years, I have been systematically downsizing, organizing, and culling my stuff.  I honestly believe that I am down about 75% from where I started.  It is amazing what one can accumulate over four decades of life.

Downsizing is a process, one that is really accomplished over time.  I would guess that I went through all the spaces of my house at least six times, now, to get where I am.  Things having a place helps me with the memory loss challenges I have.  Giving away things that someone else can use helps me with the smallness of the life I now have.  Taking the time to sort anything that can be recycled helps with the guilt of moving stuff again and again and again.  And letting go of the past helps me face who I am now.  All of that, though, is hard.  Very hard.

The basement, the attic, the linen closet, and the servants' quarters closet (housing my too large, but expensive work clothing) are the areas that still have things left to reduce or organize further.  For one, I have too many towels.  Were the house to flood, I am covered.  At least if the bathroom flooded.  The different sets tell the story of my adult life.  So, each time I take them out to donate, I find myself re-folding them and putting them back on the shelf.  In the attic, where relatively little is left, I have been considering donating all of my Christmas decorations save for the stained glass crèche set.  I simply do not use them.  Putting them up is exhausting.  If not all, at least the lights and the lighted tree for the front yard.  The basement, well, I shall not admit just how many thousands of top-loading sheet protectors and dozens of binders that I still somehow have.  The closet is the hardest.  There is a fortune in there of clothing, as well as my professional career.  I cannot wear any of it, nor do I have some place to do so if they were not too large at this point.  A few things I think could be re-sized for me, but I do not sew, nor do I know someone who would want to do so for me.

In the basement, I tackled the shelves on the back wall, going through all the office supply boxes, my old teaching supplies (I had an idea of who I could finally pass them on to), a box of antique books that had not yet found a place in my home, and the shelves of professional work things.  I ended up with: 1) a bag of books to give to someone who always admire my antique books when he is here; 2) a box of teaching supplies to mail to a friend who is now homeschooling; 3) two professional development books, an 8-gig flash drive, and some art supplies to mail to my sister (the latter for my nephew); 4) a set of large print photos to mail to a friend for her new office walls; and 5) a 7-inch stack of papers and such to be recycled.

It was probably completely un-necessary that I actually sorted the three-inch high stack of top-loading sheet protectors by edge type and weight.

I did find some stray family history papers and put them with all the others.  I didn't even know I had this one packet from my father's side of the family.  His mother had a passel of sisters and his father a brother, but none of their descendants had anything to do with our line of the family ... or we them. I am not sure why.  With my uncle divorced, childless, and deceased, my father's line of the family has narrowed, really, to my sister's children.  But our last name ends with my generation, since my brother has had no children.  The history, the names and dates, are ones I have never found in my amateurish on-line searches.  I am hoping that one of my nephews or my niece might one day be interested in all that I have collected and the generations of photos that I have, but those hopes are slim.  What does family history mean when there is no personal connection? 

Those things fascinate me, but they also make me sorrow.  Ours is a family rife with divorce, alcoholism, drugs, and abuse.  The sins of the fathers are truly visited to the generations following, but more so because of the patterns of behavior and interaction born and bred into the children.  My whole life, nearly, I dreamed and then longed to be a parent. I wanted to raise children in such a way to break that cycle.  But that was not God's plan for me.

I confess that I doubt ... often ... that I could have done so, that I could have been a proper mother to children, that I could have taught them ... given them the gifts of ... love and honor and respect and faith.

I told my friend, who is in the difficult position of having to disappoint one child's hopes for birthday plans because of the impending birth of another child, that she and her husband were already giving her daughter the greatest gift they could ever give:  unconditional love.  They cherish and champion and forgive and love their children.  Those children will have the ineffable strength and safety that comes from knowing that no matter what you have done or not done, achieved or not achieved, learned or not learned, chosen or not chosen, they are loved and wanted.  And they have a home.  She and her husband are not perfect, not by far. But their first language is love, not criticism.  And, well, they are both generous givers of the sweet, sweet Gospel.  Yes, there might be bitter and even lingering disappointment over this one birthday, but over a lifetime will come a wonder from each of their children for what have been given.

How could they not?  After all, this world is becoming ever more selfish, ever more critical, ever more hostile.  My friend and her husband are creating a physical refuge that is a reflection of the refuge we have in Christ.  And, with our foe ever vigilant, refuges are becoming ever more precious.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

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