Sleep is becoming a rare commodity. I just cannot seem to shut down my mind for long. We move this Saturday! Today is my husband’s last day at work. Things have been pending for months, so for it to all of a sudden be down to days, it is a little daunting. Packing and purging are such a drudgery…everything aches. My head pounds as I have to sift through all these things we have accumulated, constantly asking myself if we need this or just want this particular item; can I throw it away or give it away and not need it or miss it later on? It is interesting when you get down to some of the basics in life, how truly little you honestly do need. I read this great Homily by Abbot Nicolas of Holy Resurrection Monastery today. He gave it on Bright Monday and in it he addressed the issue of the western notion of “giving up” things during Lent and other times of fasting and abstinence. And it struck me that I am slowly developing this attitude that while I am certainly giving up certain items that I have had for awhile in my life and in the life of my family, I am finding that instead of it being a sacrifice, it is more of getting into alignment with the person God is calling me to be. Abbot Nicolas tells us that we are all called to these mystical experiences not just inside the Liturgy, but inside the life of all Christians. We are becoming a part of the Trinity itself. He further states, “Our vocation as mystics challenges us to be ascetics, to purge away everything in our nature that doesn’t support our deepest desire to be united to God. It is this ascetical dimension to our mysticism that makes the Byzantine “sense of mystery” so intensely practical.” And this is where my purging to move has had not just a practical use (trust me, it all has to fit into a 20-foot truck) but also a spiritual, or mystical use. When we pare away the dross of our lives and become a simpler, humbler people, we notice God working in our lives much easier. There is so much noise and chaos in the world, and we surround ourselves with things that we hope bring us peace and quiet. Sort of like wrapping a baby in swaddling – keeping them content and warm and baffled against the inputs of the world. It is hard to go from a newborn, used to the quiet warmth of the womb, into the bright and noisy world.
Abbot Nicolas reminded me that we must live the Liturgy in our daily lives. We must make room for God each and every day. There is this great Facebook page that is called MonkRock and their motto is: You don’t have to be a monk to live like one! I love that entire concept. (They have a great web site called http://www.monkrock.com and offer lots of wonderful things for sale…support them if you can). Abbot Nicolas said this about it, “There’s no competition here (shouldn’t be anyway!) between ceremony and charity, between social justice and moral living on one hand and sacramental ritual on the other. These are all stages on the same road, or movements in the same dance. Our Temple must be cleansed so we can worship. Our legs must be healed so we can walk into heaven on our own two feet. The Saints have power to work miracles, but not because there’s anything wrong with nature! Miracles show us what nature is already in process of becoming in the continuous and never-ending process of creation leading ultimately to the “New Heaven and the New Earth” of the Eschaton.” For me, cleaning out my temple has had a practical side – I have pared down our things to just the barest of necessities. There are so many things which can place artificial barriers between us and those we love, especially God.
I have a son who has attention deficit disorder. I was initially poo-pooing the whole ADD thing in pop psychology and have fought for my son to not bear labels he can never be rid of, so I approach his disorder in a natural way and ordering our little world goes a long way in dealing with his ADD. Being a teenager brings its own set of issues, and throwing ADD and homeschooling into the mix creates a miasma of circumstantial issues. Everything in its place and a place for everything has been my motto for all of our children. With this child in particular, it has had a huge impact. It is as simple as no Legos on the table when he is doing math. He will rebuild that Lego creation over and over again, even if just in his mind, and get very few math problems accomplished. This process of our move has proved extremely agitating for him. His new pet saying is, “My world has been turned upside down and I can’t find anything!!!” usually said dramatically with both hands on his head. He stood in the door of his room, after his dresser was given away and said to me, “Mom, I just don’t know what to touch first. Will you help me?” Music to a mother’s ear! Ha-Ha! And so we tackled his room, piece by piece, and inch by inch.
I am like my son with his ADD when it comes to God. So much gets in the way and my path is not clear at times; I often stand there, with both of my hands on my head, too. The world offers us noise and chaos…that is what the lord of this world does to distract us from the path we need to take. We all have a certain amount, or tendency towards, ADD when it comes to our relationship with God. How many of us are exhausted at Liturgy some days and can barely hide a yawn, but after Liturgy rush off to hike in the local hills? How many things do we place between ourselves and an honest relationship with Our Lord? Abbot Nicolas encouraged us to see that there is no real separation between Liturgy and life, but rather these are all stages on the same road, or movements in the same dance. And as I look about me, there is less and less of the stuff of this world to get between me and living my faith in my daily life. And as I have been purging my things I have also been purging the stuff getting in the way of my spiritual life. When I honestly look at most of the things I am packing, I could really drive off in my car with my family, our pets, and the clothes on our backs and I could start over with nothing at all. I would miss the memorabilia I have collected over the years, but the important things in my life would be with me…my family and my faith. My pathway towards eternity would certainly have less clutter to wade through!! All this clutter is both worldly clutter insofar as noisiness, stuff, and bother, but it is also the clutter in my heart and mind that I must process through…a simpler mindset is a simpler path towards God and is a part of my process of Theosis.