28 February, 2006

Spiritual Inventory; Spiritual Garage Sale.
Our garage is filled with the tangible evidence of our living. There are children's desks and bookcases, a wok, computer software, my huge roll top desk, the freezer, soccer balls and basket balls, two bikes, a lawn mower, various kitchen utensils, lots of canning jars and a canner, ... well, you get the idea. The garage is filling up with the stuff that we've outgrown, out used, or just won't have a place for in our new place. It's stuff we have to get rid of.

Some stuff has already been given or sold to others. A small TV with a VHS player to the my church's nursery. A second lawn mower to our neighbor. The basketball hoop to another neighbor. Landscaping tools and some plants to yet another neighbor. My kitchen island to a member of my church. Things we asked others if they could use because we thought they might and because we cared about what happened to them.

As I weed through the stuff in this house and think about what I really need for the next, I keep finding more stuff I really don't need. Why do I have so many sets of twin sheets when I only have one twin bed? Why so many sets of towels? Why so many curtain rods? Where did all these phone cords come from anyway? The more I open boxes and closets, the more stuff that ends up in my garage for the sale. I really don't need most of this stuff. So why did I buy it in the first place? And where has it been hiding all this time?

Some things I take hold of and wonder if I could possibly live without even though they have no practical value. It's all in the sentimental or memory value. The box of letters my mother wrote to me over the years. The tattered and worn table scarf that was Dan's grandmother's. The unity candle from our wedding. These collect dust or sit in a box untouched. Some are too fragile to be handled. Their real value is in the memory, the association to a loved one, the emotional connection. I can't bring myself to throw them away. So into a box they'll go and they'll get moved yet again.

Then there are the things I thought I lost that I'm finding. The keys to my roll top desk and firebox. The box of blank cassette tapes I replaced already. The angel food cake cutter that I bought in a kitchen specialty shop 10 years ago and only used once and lost. Treasures I fretted about losing that now will be sold in the garage sale. Not so valuable after all.

Moving is always a time to "clean house" and "clean out." We don't want so much weight in that moving van because we pay by the pound. This time, however, we're moving to a much smaller space. So, we really must pare down what we own, sort through our stuff and prioritize what is really important to keep and what we throw away, and what we can pass along to others either through this sale or by donating to a charity. We must make choices today that we may regret later -- either because we got rid of something of value or kept something that has no value at the other end of the move.

What would a "spiritual move" do in our lives? What if we intentionally chose to journey from where we so comfortably live now in the faith to a different place -- a new place? What if we explored a different way to express or experience our faith? What would we need to leave behind, or put in our "spiritual garage sale"? What would we pack away into "spiritual storage"? And how much of that would we later unload?

It was a spiritual garage sale that began our journey to this place -- a small town in Maryland where we would start a new faith community. We had to move to a whole new place spiritually to put ourselves where we could be open and ready to do God's new thing, re-imagine the Church for a new generation of people. We brought with us the necessities and a few things we didn't need. We left behind those things that were no longer useful. We had to find new tools and means once we began the new work. We made a move. We can't go back to where we were. We can only go forward to yet a new place.

As we ready ourselves to begin a new leg of our journey, moving on to other ministries in new places, we begin again the sorting and the sifting. This journey begins with divergent paths -- two journeys from one and merging again somewhere beyond the present. What will we need for the journeys? What will we take that we find we no longer need? What will we pass on to others who will find it useful?

Our garage is filled with the evidence of our material living. What is the evidence of our Spiritual living? What have we passed along to others? Given away freely? Offered at a price?
What's in your Spiritual Garage Sale?

Lenten Blessings!