Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Into the Desert

Lent is upon us again; I can't even believe a whole year has gone by since last year's life-changing Lent of giving up negative thought.

I've been so caught up in my housebuilding plans that I haven't given much thought to Lent at all this year, until a couple of days ago, when it suddenly struck me that I'm literally going into the desert for Lent this time!

Over the past few weeks, the occasional thought has crossed my mind about what to give up this year, but nothing was really jumping out at me.  Then the other day, as I was perusing the many tasks ahead of me before I can start building my house, the one that settled on my brain like a giant bloodsucking leech was about having to move out of this house.  Dealing with all that STUFF:  sorting it, selling it, throwing some away, taking some to the Free Box, dividing some up between my two oldest daughters to take to their respective apartments, possibly putting some in storage (ugh!), and ultimately just narrowing it all down to what is essential - because I'll be living in a 32-foot bus for several months.  And even after my house is built, I will need to live more simply as it's going to be on the small side.

Sigh.  I hate moving.

Today though, it occurred to me that I could just give up "stuff" for Lent.  Dress the whole dreaded task as a spiritual practice, thereby enlivening and redeeming it.  Now I'm actually excited to begin this process, and it's nice that I have a couple of months to do it all.  This way, I can focus on one little area at a time and be thorough and unrushed.

Just one of the many places in my house where there's TOO MUCH STUFF
I happened across an article today called The Zero-Waste Home from the January edition of Sunset magazine, about a family who lives very simply, producing almost no garbage.  I don't know if I'll ever live as austerely as they do (they don't even have any pictures on their walls), but it definitely inspired me to pare down quite a bit, to get excited about the challenge of choosing to keep only those things that are functional and/or inspirational.

My plan is to release at least one thing from my possession every day of Lent.  Some days it will be much more than one thing, but the goal is to be fully prepared to be out of this house with a minimum of - well, everything - by Easter.

And when I finally do get out into the desert, I will be carrying a much lighter load.  Literally.


  1. Ah, Fascinating, Polli. I love the way Lent works on us. It is both a discipline and a gift, a stripping away and a companion. Your Lenten Journey makes absolute sense and it is also a holy path. This strikes me for you, for me, and for several people I know, some Lenten paths being more severe than others, but everyone holy. And the minute it becomes sacred, then joy starts flowing and a certain fearlessness settles in :-)
    A most blessed Lent for you, Polli :-)

  2. Very well put, Claire. Thank you. Blessings on your Lenten journey as well!

  3. I have to say, when I found out last Friday (due to some blog reading) that Lent started yesterday? I was beyond pleased. Because I hadn't KNOWN. I do believe my separation from organized religion is complete. I know Lent is meaningful to you. And I would never want you to not have it. But for me to not even know it was coming? Having forgotten it? Was so liberating. So, so freeing. How my life used to revolve around the church calendar. Blech.

  4. I hear ya! I've had some similar feelings myself, except for me it was a little disturbing to realize Lent was almost here and I hadn't thought about it. I've developed a system of seasonal observations that include not only Christian holy days but those from other traditions as well, and observing these days is a way for me to keep in tune with other rhythms than just work work work. The fact that I had forgotten about Lent showed me that I've gotten too far into the workaday rhythm and away from what keeps me sane in the midst of that.

  5. Can you technically give up "stuff" for Lent? Or do they prefer that you be specific?

  6. The liturgical powers-that-be, I guess.

  7. I can appreciate 'stuff' - I think that there's a real advantage in not being specific - then you get more of the A'ha moments.

  8. Hello Ms Pollinatrix. You're one of those people who I keep seeing on other people's blogs, Lucy's and Barbara's etc :) I thought I would drop by here and "read you" myself :)

    I am totally with you here in terms of giving up stuff ... although I've given up Lent also. At the moment I'm also really considering giving up Jesus as well, and this is disturbing. Because Jesus actually works, having him here in my body. I'm just not sure if he really exists as we knew it. To be able to sit in doubt on that one is the ultimate liberation. My most fervent prayer at the moment to God is that he really existed, haha. Strange prayer life :P

    I'm in the process of moving house myself, and I agree, giving up stuff is awfully liberating!!

    (PS: I love your profile description. I think I am along those lines also, a collage-maker of ideas. It's amazing how much everything is connected, is it not? :)

  9. Yes, Sue, it seems like you and I are woven from similar threads, based on your comment. I totally relate to what you're saying here, and I love how articulately you've put it. Will have to hop over and check out your blog now :)

  10. Well, it's full of whingeing and whining and griping at the moment, but don't mind me, I don't bite :)

  11. I too love your profile description, it is poetic, and concisely communicates a very big and beautiful idea.

    We moved into our 300 square foot home in October 2010. I had the same issues with stuff. We got rid of a lot of it, which was so nice. I tried to reuse or give away what I could, but dispite the waste, it felt so good droping it into the dumpster. We have a storage shed that we put the rest of our 'nicer' stuff in. And dispite our precautions mice have made homes in our stuff. And we soon realized that two months after moving in everything we really needed we had already removed from the storage shed. So I will not be surprised if in the future after the mice have done their worst, we end up getting rid of even more stuff. We are becoming minimalists, not as a chosen value, but more as a practicality. It definitely feels lighter to get rid of stuff. I remember at first it felt like I was severing a part of my body off. Oh no! I may need that! But then I choose to trust that what I need I will get when I need it. So far thats been the case.

  12. Ah yes, mice. God's little Stuff Police, bless their hearts.

    Trusting that I'll get what I need is something I'm great at sometimes, and terrible at other times. I guess it depends on how attached I am to getting the thing in question.



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