Simplifying Life

The thought of packing is probably one of the most challenging parts of moving. It’s amazing how much you can accumulate over time, and often without even knowing it! An even greater challenge is that I am moving from a house to a suite in a rectory, which means considerable downsizing must take place before I move.

A short time ago, as I began this process, I had this thought while driving. “If I were to die today, what of this “stuff” would most matter?” In that very moment, I felt free to rid myself of stuff that I thought had some significance for me. All that stuff I put on the “maybe” pile moved to the recycling or garbage pile, simply because of that benchmark that came to me while driving.

Through the experience of participating in many international service trips to places such as Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, there has always been something within me that has pushed me to a simpler life. Yet, as a part of the culture and society we live it, it is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking I “need” different things. Somehow the right book would have the right answer that I was looking for in life. Out there was the right article of clothing that I just had to have, including an obsession with Life is Good gear which fills much of my drawers!

But in these moments of transition, it becomes yet another invitation to discern what is most needed, what would matter if I were to die today. As I sit here looking around my office typing this, I think, not much of it. So much of it I don’t even realize is even there most of the time. Maybe it meant something at some point and there was some sentimental value to holding onto different things, but there remains that nagging feeling to simplify life. Do I really need all this stuff? What would matter if I died today? Quite honestly, not much of it, if I were honest with myself.

I think of that passage when Jesus sends out the disciples taking nothing with them. It was an invitation to trust that somehow God would provide and also give the opportunity to be in solidarity with so many that they meet along the way, the poor, crippled, lame, and the other characters we encounter in scripture and in life who are not there for us to change, but rather to somehow change us and soften us and form us in a way that we evangelize not simply by our words, but more so by the way we live our lives.

At this moment of change, downsizing, and most importantly, simplifying, another door opens into trusting what Mystery has in store next; nothing is coincidental but rather providential and preparation for what is to unfold in the days, weeks, and years to come. For so long the thought of getting rid of some of this “stuff” seemed somewhat impossible, because each has meant something at one time or another, and yet that nagging invitation is to let it go and trust that more doors and windows will open with God providing all that is needed in living more simply.

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