I’ve hit one of those patches. Mark Twain’s description of life: “Just one darn thing after another.” Funerals. Writing commitments. Loved friends who enjoy to spend an hour or two . . . or three . . . with me. All good. All things to delight in. But it’s another form of accumulation.
Things gather – whether the harvest of shopping trips or half-finished bottles and jars of nameless substances in the pantry or the inheritance of heirlooms of one kind or another or the simultaneous arrival of events and opportunities.
Living a recollected life requires a person to develop the ability to say “No”. I find this very easy in some areas, hard to do in others.
Our society, especially the faith community, is to some extent getting the hang of saying “No” to things. De-cluttering and down-sizing are recognisable common trends. People have grasped the need for it and talk about it even if they don’t do it. But cluttered time is still seen as a virtue. Socialising and “getting together” are encouraged. From greeters on the door at Sunday worship to the permaculturist’s enthusiasm for fostering community; from the Moneyless Man’s joy in spending as much time as possible with large groups of people to the Transition Town movement’s emphasis on community involvement as the prize (and to some extent the goal) of developing post-oil society.
Frankly, it does my head in. I read the early chapters of Mark’s gospel, and I wonder how He survived. Take this for example:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ (Mark 1:35-37)
I certainly know that territory, but He had to cope with it on so much greater a scale:
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all who were ill and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. (Mark 1:29-34)
The early morning is still the key to solitude. Early rising and early retiring avoid an astonishing number of interactions, and belong to peace. Electricity figures in here too, somehow. On the occasions when I have had the discipline to allow my life to be illumined by natural light, peace comes in waves. Once it is too dark to read – and my eyes are not good enough to read by candle-light – without telly, without the computer, what is there to do but watch the clouds as the day fades and the stars come out, and think? Or sit by the fireside and watch the silent flames and the ember glow. Actually, just writing this makes me feel better :0)
The pathway to all this is simplicity. I need to go a little further up the mountain. The poison-seeping tentacles of Mammon are the problem. I get caught in spending, I need to earn to replace what I’ve spent, and I have to give my time away in order to earn. I want my time back – the time God gave me and trusted me with. I am going to swap electricity and shopping for time. That’s the answer!
Ah this piece of fabric started out life as a skirt. I think I blogged about it before . . . yes! Here. It moved house with us and did the same duty as a curtain to cover the place where we kept our garbage and recycling bins under the breakfast bar. Then when we changed the kitchen, there was no place left to cover – or anywhere else in the house. So I washed it and added it to some other fabric pieces to make a textile craft kit to Freecycle.