Up to then, I had thought I was fairly organized and calm about this huge change—leaving my home of 33 years, sorting and organizing things, saying goodbye to precious friends and places, and looking forward to a new call, a new adventure, a new life in San Diego. But suddenly, watching all I owned hefted by strangers into boxes, I was swept with a sharp sense of desolation. I called a friend and said, “Tell me it’s normal to be feeling a little crazy right now.” She said, “It is perfectly normal.” After all, everything I possessed was being entrusted to people I didn’t know, to a process over which I felt little control.
The transformation from then to now is remarkable. Since that moment, all my things have been loaded and taken, and I have driven across the beautiful, stark, simple desert to my new home.
It’s empty for now, awaiting the arrival of the truck, and I have resolved to be careful about what I take into my home going forward.
And I’ve forgiven myself for being a little nuts. I realize now that all those things we packed up weren’t just knick knacks and furniture but all my stories and the stories of my daughters and our life in Fort Worth, Texas. Everything has a meaning –even the “junk” that I don’t really want has a
story—maybe a dumb one, but a story nonetheless. And all these stories are little “tugs” on my spirit, encumbering me—threads that weave my larger story into a whole picture that may not be a work of art, but is still mine.
This is the basis of the spiritual discipline of simplicity, what Quakers call a seeking after a lack of “cumber.” Clarity and freedom and calm come from letting go of all those tiny “tugs” that are polluting our spirits. Learning to live with fewer possessions and a simpler spirit opens up more space for what is precious and beautiful. We learn to treasure what is truly meaningful and let go of what is not. Suddenly, the incarnation in a stable makes so much more sense, the coming of
God in quiet and simplicity seems fitting and right. There is a stark beauty to it, in contrast to the busyness and chaos of our culture at this time of year. It’s like a quiet drive across a moonlit desert, leading us to a new life.
May God’s simplicity overtake your life this Christmas season; and may you know and enjoy this simplicity of “Emanuel”, God with us.