Our grand Lenten clear-out is going well. Boxes of books have been heaved out of the door, articles of furniture, clothes and kitchen implements – all sorts of things we once thought we couldn’t possibly live without.
Today, I have been tackling a category I never find easy. Back in the days before i-tunes really got going and we all began to keep our music in our phones, when CDs were all the thing, my daughters and I often made each other music compilation CDs for birthday and Christmas gifts. Nowadays we neither make CDs nor give birthday or Christmas gifts, but there is a certain legacy. These things made for me by people I love are among my few treasures.
The CDs were important. My family made them at a time when we were breathtakingly poor, when our family home had gone and we were muddling along in an assortment of made-do dwellings, keeping cheerful by whatever means we could, loving and helping each other along. For a long time I had no car. But when I got one, and work began to pick up, my days were spent tearing around the lanes of Sussex from house to house and church to church, working on funerals and ceremonies of blessing and generally shepherding outlying flocks of the faithful. Sometimes I got so tired I was just reeling. During the time I was married to Bernard and living out at Beckley in his little cottage in Bixley Lane on the verge of Flatropers Wood, I drove miles and miles every day keeping home and family and marriage and work stitched together. Late at night, driving home through the trees under the wild moon, playing music in the car formed the rhythms my tired mind needed just to make it back.
Later, when Bernard had died and I’d married the Badger and moved off to Aylesbury, drifting and lonely away from my family, hemmed in by new hostilities and proliferating difficulties, they sent me CDs of the happiest songs. As I painted the walls and cleaned and cooked, far away from them, their music lifted my spirits and kept me alive. It should have been such a wonderful time, in a new marriage and all – but there were so many difficulties. Even with the Badger, dear and true, those were not easy days.
And today, I got out my little packet of CDs and began the job of sorting them out, uploading and categorizing and labeling them in my i-tunes library. After that, I discarded the actual CDs – put them aside for anyone else in the family to upload who wants to.
But I wanted to show you this one. A Christmas CD Hebe made me in 2008. That was such a low year – the year I finally caved in under all the awful stuff going down and left the Methodist ministry, because I couldn’t work, could hardly hold together.
And Hebe made me this lovely thing – a compilation CD inside a little booklet, called “Before I Sleep”.
I thought you’d like to see the little booklet:
Before I Sleep
Because it all came together as one thing, even though I’ve uploaded the music into my i-tunes library, I’ll still keep the CD with the leaflet.
It is my ambition to own almost nothing – and one of the beauties of that is the way these few treasures I do own emerge and shine; this is what I value; this is what I have loved. To look at them and handle them and let them take centre stage is one of many surprising gifts of minimalism.