Archive for September, 2008

The starting point

Tonight, as I prepare for my first day of classes at Fuller, I reflect on where I am at, what I hope, and where I have come from.

My journey thus far has been incredibly rich. Academically, I have been lead slowly but surely toward this place; although my undergraduate work for the most part had very little to do with theology, the seeds were slowly being planted. When my heart finally did break open for God, the soil was ready and fertile, and the seeds began to turn into bright green shoots springing forth through the earth of my entire being.

My graduate work in my M.A. program in Theology refined me in many ways, but I think my greatest growth came through the opportunity to devote everything–my head, my heart, and my body–to God and God’s work. This opportunity, which was worth so much more than the specific material I was learning, was my first experience of total, holistic, unabridged devotion. While the program in which I studied was academically sound, I don’t think that I was mature enough to glean all of the information it offered; instead, my growth was realized more through the bigger picture, the message of the entire experience.

Throughout this time, I also was being refined through the fire of heartbreak, of illness, of the unknown. God was leading me by the belt where I seldom wanted to go.

When I graduated with the M.A., I felt stuck. I felt tired of the “academy,” and I struggled to find my niche in the world of practical ministry. I decided to teach. For 3 years, I devoted my life to teaching, rejoicing in the wonderful revelations and despairing in the situations that I could do little to change or help. Yet this vocation was not mine to fulfill…at least, not for my entire life. God called me back to the study of theology through a wide variety of creative means, and sometimes my reluctance and fear caused the methods to be more extreme than I would have desired if given the choice.

Yet during this time of personal trial, God also graced me with a partner to walk my life’s journey with me. It was the single greatest gift I had ever been given, and in receiving it I was finally able to have the courage to follow where God was leading me.

Which leads me to where I am. Sitting here, about 13 hours away from my first M.Div. classes, hoping that this is the beginning of a movement toward an eventual doctoral degree and many opportunities to spread God’s word in accessible and exciting ways to the world. I wonder what they will be like. I wonder if the rest of my fellow classmates will know much more than I do. I wonder if there will be lots of homework (I know the answer to that one!). I wonder if the professors will be engaging and inspired. I wonder if my health will hold up all semester. I wonder if I’m up for the task ahead of me.

But depite all of this wondering, I do not feel afraid; for although there are many things I do not know, the things I am certain of give me deep comfort.

I know my husband will be there when I get home with arms to hold me and ears to listen. I know he will love me through all of my experiences, and I know that I will love him back just as fiercely. I know my family supports me and is proud of me, no matter how the story plays out. I know that my relationship with God has led me to this place, that it is where God wants me to be, and because of that there is no mistaking whether or not I should be here. I know that my faith community is a supportive one. I know I am created to have all of these feelings, and I rejoice in the opportunity to experience the movement of God’s spirit through my work. I know there is great potential here, and the very potential gives me great hope.

I have so many hopes for this experience, but my greatest one is that I burn even hotter for God’s work in the world. Whether it be a light for social justice, or for a deeper understanding of our Imago Dei and potential, or for a deeper respect for God’s created world; I hope I have eyes and ears open enough to see and hear the path which will give the greatest glory to God.

I know this path won’t be easy. But I can’t wait to start.

Advertisements

Fists shut, or palms open?

Once again I find myself struggling with the tension of the present and the future.

In attending my first few days of orientation at Fuller Seminary, I have to admit that I have been more than surprised and pleased at the racial, cultural, and continental diversity of my fellow student peers. Their openess and willingness to share their prayers and experiences with me has been both inspiring and motivating.

As far as classes, I am going to undertake the tremendous task of balancing four classes each quarter.  This quarter, I’ll be taking the first of three beginning Greek classes, a New Testament class that covers Acts through Revelation, a class on Patristic Theology (early Church history), and an Introduction to Islam course. My only qualm is that I am on the waiting list for the Greek class that I want, and instead am stuck with one that is at a less-than-ideal time. But, as my wise mother counseled me earlier, it is only for a short while.

My tension lies in my desire to begin coupled with my fear of beginning. I am zealous and I am hesitant. I wonder what is before me, and I am timid at the thought of it.

I also am struggling with the tension of the “fast track” of a two year, plow-through type program, with 4 classes every quarter, so that I can move on to doctoral work faster (and therefore get back into the workforce quicker, have kids earlier, etc.), or the slower, more sane three year program. The benefit of a three year track would be the opportunity to take electives (possibly even some doctoral seminars), and a more manageable schedule. On the other hand, a two year program is more sensible in other ways, not the least of which includes our finances. I feel the struggle within me constantly about what is the right decision for our family.

My prayer as I begin this is that I don’t lose sight of the larger calling God has laid out before me. Passing classes, cramming for exams, memorizing texts and paradigms is not the point of this part of the journey, and I pray for the insight and wisdom to recognize that when the stress is high. I also pray that my relationship with God and with my family is deepened through this experience, not strained. I have heard too many stories of students forgetting the ultimate purpose for their studies; a professor said it best yesterday: “When God comes calling to you, what are you going to say? ‘Go away, God, I’m too busy studying You to talk?’ I sure hope not!”

Finally, I pray that I take advantage of this sacred time and opportunity by living up to my potential as a scholar, a wife, and a daughter of God. I pray that I do not keep my fists clenched with frustration from the tension, but rather live with my palms open, facing upward, offering all I am and all I can be to God’s loving embrace.

The Calm Before the Storm

Today has been my last day of relative calm before I begin my journey at Fuller Seminary. I spent the day cleaning the house; I vacuumed and I dusted and I did the laundry and cleaned the floors. I know that part of me was doing it to calm my nerves, and the other part of me wanted to be practical. Hey, I realize that I won’t have much time to clean house once I start my schedule of 16 units (4 classes), Just Faith, choir rehearsal, and devoting my Saturday nights and Sundays to my church singing jobs. I better enjoy the clean house while I can!

There are so many things running through my head right now, but the one I want to focus on is gratitude. Of course, I could focus on the fear, or the nerves, or the anxiety. I could go over the questions in my head over and over about what it will be like, and if I will be able to handle it all, and whether or not I will be able to do justice to this path that God has set before me. But I think to perseverate on those ideas would be missing the point of this marvelous opportunity with which I have been gifted.

You see, I have come to recognize lately that I really want to show God how grateful I am for so many things in my life….and yet, if I honestly examine the way that I live, I’m not sure that I always express that. Surrendering my thoughts to fear, worry, comparison, sadness, and frustration is not showing God my gratitude. Focusing on how much I dislike certain things about myself certainly isn’t showing gratitude. Wasting food, energy, and money isn’t grateful at all. So how do I sync up my desire to show God gratitude and my actions?

I’ve already talked a little about how my husband and I are trying to live more simply. In the process of doing so, I’m trying to be conscious and mindful of the blessings I have — daily food, shelter, clothing that I enjoy, shampoo to wash my hair, a pen to write with. I’m trying to recognize these things as I use them, and in doing so, thank God for the fact that I have them in the first place. I’m also trying to detach myself from them at the same time; that they are convenient and nice and wonderful to have, but I need to remember that I never need any of those things to be happy.

I’m also trying to redirect my fear and frustration by reminding myself of the wonderful things in my life. My relationship with my husband and family top my list here. No matter what frustration comes my way, whether it be traffic, a busy grocery store (this is a tough one for me), or just a bad mood, I’m trying to snap myself out of it as soon as possible by giving thanks for the blessings of my husband, family, and friends. It’s hard to remain mad when you’re thinking about something so wonderful.

I’m also trying to redirect my nervousness about Fuller. As soon as those thoughts enter my head (you know, the “you’re can’t possibly do this and do well” thoughts), I try to think about the glorious opportunity that lay before me to enter into God’s prescence in a focus and conscious way on a daily basis. That alone is enough reason to do this, and even if it’s the only reason that God has led me to this point, it can be enough.

Of course, this doesn’t always work when I lie awake at 3am. But I’m trying. I’m a work in progress, like we all are.

One of the homilists I heard on Sunday talked about a Native American story of a grandfather passing down wisdom to his grandson. I think it kind of sums up what I have been thinking about. Here is the same story below, which I was able to find from this website.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Complexity of Simplicity, part 4

This is the final reflection in my series on this topic.

Unstuffing the Mind

The last part of our unstuffing process may be one of the most difficult for many reading this, because it involves actions and results that are far less concrete, with results that are usually not as immediate (as opposed to clearing your house of unnecessary and/or unused stuff). It does, however, follow the same basic principles as the other two processes: becoming aware of the problem, figuring out the root of the problem, educating yourself on alternatives, and taking action to create a plan and put your plan into work.

The basic problem is this: our daily inward experience is overwhelmed by the barrage of outward, unnecessary stimuli and concern. In this case, I’m not talking about stimuli like the television or radio; rather, the stimuli of worry, of self-deprecation, of competition with others, of vanity…basically, of junk!

We clutter our minds with things that do us no long term good, and when we feel like our minds our full of these experiences, we shove things into shadowed corners where they can reside in the dark, forgotten until the most inconvenient moment. Imagine the phenomenon of the garage, attic, or basement that becomes “the clutter room,” and then apply the same principle to your daily consciousness. No wonder we feel so tired and battered by this world! We’re holding on to the wrong stuff.

For help with how to free ourselves of unnecessary mental clutter, I will first turn to a source that has far greater wisdom than I: the Bible. In Matthew, 6:25-34, Jesus tells us that we should not fixate ourselves on worldly concerns. The one that always strikes me is the line where he tells us not to worry about what we should wear. He’s right; the function of clothes is to protect and warm our bodies, but we’ve put such a different emphasis on their place in our lives. There’s a whole industry devoted to how clothes look! Jesus’ line, “[Is not] the body more than clothing?” reminds us that our worries about whether or not we are in fashion are, in fact, not where our attention should be focused.

Is this because fashion is evil or sinful? No, of course not–rather, the problem is that we end up wasting too much energy on what to wear and where to buy it and how much to spend on it and who will see us in it. It distracts us for the awareness that there are people, probably in the very same city that we live in, that only have one outfit, and their greatest concern is far from fashion. It makes our emphasis inward, not outward. It shifts our focus to ourselves, our own emotions, our own relevance and impression to the world, and in doing so creates judgment in our own minds on those who don’t live up to the same standards. It forces our energy to be directed toward ourselves instead of expanding out into the world — and when this happens, in the process of shutting out the world, we also inadvertently shut out God. So, in short, it’s not the fashion that’s sinful; it’s the mindset and the mental process that develops as a result of our emotional investment in it.

But how we appear to the outside world isn’t the only way we stuff our minds. We also stuff it with needless worry, even though Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow! I was recently talking to someone who told me that she stays up through the night, tossing and turning, because she can’t stop worrying about the economy and terrorism and the war and what’s going to happen next. Worry had taken over and become an obsession, demanding all of her mental attention and focus.

I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t be concerned about what is happening in the world around us; after all, it’s our responsibility to be well-informed so that we can work actively toward justice when necessary. But to worry to the point of distraction (or obsession) is to fool yourself into believing that you have more power than you actually do. Worrying doesn’t control or even affect an outcome. Rather, it drains our energy and forces us (once again) to be self-focused, and driven inward. Remember the serenity prayer? The one about accepting the things you cannot change, changing the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference? That’s a really good prayer to assist in unstuffing your worry…especially the last line.

There are so many other things we stuff our minds with unnecessarily, and I can’t go into each and every one of them here, but your conscience can help you understand which ones are really distracting you. Acknowledging the things you really struggle with is the best way to start the process of free yourself and opening yourself to the simple and marvelous freedom of God’s comfort and ever-loving care. Pray for the courage to see it and to simply be aware of it. The rest usually comes when you’re ready.

I think the most important things to remember in the process of unstuffing your mind are these:

(1) Reflect honestly about the various things that fill your consciousness throughout the day. How much of it is energy that is pointed inward instead of outward? How much of it leads to no good outcome? How much of it drains your energy, makes you sad, makes you feel resentful, or boosts your ego? This is the clutter we want to get rid of. This is where simplification can open up the space for God’s movement and an appreciation of your own Imago Dei.

(2) Once you have made yourself aware of what your particular unnecessary “stuff” is, ask yourself what you could do to redirect your energy when you find yourself fixating on it. Prayer? Volunteering? Meditation? Daily Mass? Playing with your children? A little hint here: a good redirecting process will always expand your energy outward, not keep you fixated inward. Therefore, calling a girlfriend and “venting” about all of the things you’re worried about is not a good redirecting activity; you’d still be fixating on it and keeping the energy self-focused.

These two questions are a good place to start when trying to rid your mind of unnecessary junk. In truth, it’s the same principle as unstuffing your house or unstuffing your schedule. You have to make room for some empty space–otherwise, God won’t have room to get in. Simplification is about so much more than making a budget, making room, making time, or creating calm. It’s about opening up a space for God. It’s about preparing yourself to host the most beautiful guest you could ever imagine. It’s about ridding ourselves of the unnecessary so we can recognize and honor the Most Necessary.

Quite simply (no pun intended), it’s about truly honoring our role as a temple, a holy dwelling place. It’s about honoring God with what God deserves….the beautiful creation of the authentic us, unadulterated, undistracted, unattached. Us.

Complexity of Simplicity, Part 3

This is a continuation of my previous two posts.

“Unstuffing” the Schedule

One of the things I have increasingly noticed when visiting friends with children is the vast breadth and density of children’s schedules these days. Children as young as four years old rarely spend any time at home; how could they, when in the course of one week they have ice skating practice, gymnastics, auditions, Spanish lessons, art integration lessons, music lessons, play dates, and swim lessons? I’m not talking about kids that pick and choose a few things to enjoy, I’m talking about one child, participating in all of these activities, each and every week. In talking to a young girl the other day, she whispered to me, “Sometimes I just feel like I need a nap at the end of the day.”

Yet it’s no surprise that our children are being convinced that they must be jacks of all trades. I remember my college days at Loyola Marymount University, when many of my friends had the same bad habit as I did of overstuffing our schedules. It was typical to be exhausted and frenzied; not because we had spent the night before staying up too late at a party or write a paper for which we had procrastinated, but rather because we were all members of clubs, directors of organizations, volunteers, in a fraternity or a sorority, participating in Campus Ministry events…you get the picture. Our mindset was that we were really squeezing the marrow out of our college experience by doing a little of everything, but what we were really doing was just running ourselves ragged.

This isn’t just the story for young children or college students. Unfortunately, many of us overstuff our lives, just like we overstuff our houses. Some of that overstuffing comes from our obligations to our families, or from our responsibilities at work, or even time just sitting in traffic. But like our homes, many of the things that fill our schedules are unnecessary. For example, I was considering the other day what my life would be like if we didn’t have a television in our home. Immediately my mind worried, “But I wouldn’t get to see that show I really really love on Tuesday nights!” I’ll even admit that I thought to myself, “I actually really just like the background noise.”

How many of us are married to our television? How many of us either plan our schedules around being home for a certain show (or shows), or use television as a means to “unwind” at the end of the day? As much as I hate to admit it, television is mostly unnecessary stuffing in our lives. We lose precious time we could spend in conversation, in prayer, reading a good book, learning an instrument…things that could nourish our spirits, feed our minds, and help us feel like we’re not flying from one thing to another (ever notice how the hour in front of the TV seems to get lost, so that you don’t even feel that it happened? How do you “rest” that way?).

Internet is another way that we overstuff ourselves. Emails. Texts. The obsession with constantly knowing who needs to contact me or where somebody else is can really become an addiction.

Overworking. Sometimes, this can’t be helped. But most of the time, our jobs really do take too much energy and time out of our precious moments on this earth. Unless you’re one of the lucky few people who is absolutely in love with what they do (so much so that your job is pretty much how you would want to spend your free time), you probably don’t want to spend more time than you have to with your job. Then why do we elect to do it? I’m not talking about working extra hours because you need money for food on the table. I’m talking about elective work here. When I was a teacher, I had to make a very firm boundary with myself: I was going to find a way to not bring my work home. I would assign as much as I could correct at school in the hour or two I spent in my classroom after the schoolday finished. If I had to assign more, I would try to make it so that I could correct them with peer editing or class presentations. I had to set that boundary for myself, because if I didn’t, suddenly my job also became my husband’s job, also took away from time with my family, and all around left me feeling exhausted. Work only as much as you have to in order to make a living; other than than, there’s more life to enjoy out there.

So what is one thing we can do to unstuff the schedule? I’ll tell you something that really helped me, and it’s along the lines of the whole inventory idea. Make a couple lists. On the first one, list all of the things that you do on a regular basis. Work, church commitments, daily grind, etc. Then, on the other list, write down the things you really wish you could do and things that you really love to do.  One caveat, though: this second list isn’t just the “things I want to do before I die” list. It’s the list of things that expand you outward, help you to become aware of your potential, and help you to recognize the sacred in yourself. Basically, it’s the list that you think God might make for you if you said, “Hey God? What did you make me to do? What would be the best way to make the most of this amazing gift of a self you’ve given me?” Now look back at your first list. Are they in line with each other? Are there any things on the first list that you might be able to substitute with things from the second list? Is there anything on the first list that might grow into something on the second list? Are there things that should just be cut altogether from the first list? On the face of it, you might think that I’m telling you to unstuff your schedule by replacing it with more stuff. But if you made your second list honestly, you’ll see that I’m not. Nothing on the second list should come even close to making you look like a chicken with your head cut off.

By the way…never tell yourself, “It’s too hard.” God wouldn’t make it too hard for you to realize your own potential. Why should you fill your days with things that distract you from that? One of the most important parts of simplifying your schedule is returning to a prayerful awareness of God’s movement in your life.

But I can’t just leave it at that. There’s one very, very important last aspect I want to tell you about that will really help the stuff start to unstuff. So here’s the big finish: no matter what your commitments, you need to have the time to supplement your days with silence. Silence is one of the most valuable gifts you could give yourself (and no, I’m not talking about being silent in your sleep). Silence allows you time to connect with your body, to open up a space for God’s voice and movement in your life, and to recognize the sacred gift of the day.

So now I challenge us both, you and I…what “stuff” do we need to free ourselves from in our schedules in order to feel like we are using God’s temple as such?

Complexity of Simplicity, Part 2

Yesterday I began a multi-part blog about the simplification of our lives in order to fight the consumer-driven, self-focused mindset of our modern society. I talked about how we are overstuffed with unnecessaries: stuffed with stuff, literally, in our homes, our schedules, and our minds. Yesterday I focused primarily on simplifying one’s home life, with the promise that subsequent blogs will deal will schedules and minds, respectively. But before I begin writing about the simplification of schedule (which I actually think will probably have to carry over into tomorrow’s blog), I want to comment on the effect yesterday’s reflection had on my own life.

My struggle lately has been putting my theology and my lifestyle into harmony with one another. There are many aspects of my life where I feel like I am doing an okay job in living out what I believe: humane treatment of animals, not supporting big corporations that have done evil things, etc. But living simply has not been one of those areas. As I wrote yesterday, about all of the things I wished I could do myself, I couldn’t help but think that in order to be a credible theologian and a conscious Christian, I had to follow my own advice. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not touting the latest iPhone and I hate designer clothes. I haven’t been a consumer glutton in that way…and yet I was still finding myself bound to “stuff.”

Troubled by this, I brought it up to my husband over dinner. Thank God I married this man; as so often happens, he had been considering the same things at the same time as me. Realizing that we wanted to make a conscious commitment to live a life of compassion, less tied to stuff, and with a greater sense of humility and solidarity with the poor, we decided to do exactly what I talked about yesterday. I know it won’t be easy; is swimming upstream every easy? But we’re going to do our best, work hard at it, and support each other.

Thus we face the first step: making an inventory. Practically speaking, making an inventory of our apartment will probably take months. Not because we have enough stuff to write for months about, but because it is a very time-consuming task. So we’ve decided we’ll do one room at a time.

As we go through each room and list each and every thing in it, we will consider if we use it, how we use it, and whether or not we should keep it. Knowing me, there will probably be some intricate highlighting system to designate each category. Eventually, I think we will have a garage sale to clear out some of the unnecessary things. I’m sure a good deal of it will also be donated or given to friends and family.

I’m telling you this today because I think it’s important for us all as theologians (for if you are a person of faith, you too are a theologians) to not let our theology be idle words and abstract ideals. I’m not moving to India to live with the world’s poorest, but I am making a small step that is in line with what I believe to be right. No good comes from being attached to my stuff; in fact, isn’t it a golden calf of a different color and shape?

I’m also telling you this because I want to give you an invitation. If you read this, and want to do something like this, comment here or send me a private message. We all need to support each other if anything is to change. Even if you aren’t ready to do the big inventory or “un-stuff” your house, maybe you are ready to do a little reading about people in other parts of the world (my husband and I have some great book recommendations, or check out my reading page), or maybe you are ready to just start keeping a journal of all of your purchases for a year. Like I said yesterday, I think the biggest and most important step is awareness. It’s also the scariest, because once you become aware, you can never again claim to be ignorant. That’s okay, through — because through prayer, through community, and through faith, you can have the courage to face the beauty of your glorious potential as the hands, feet, and face of Christ in this world.

The Complexity of Simplicity

My husband and I are currently part of a social justice prayer/study group at a local parish called Just Faith. Through the readings, reflections, and conversations that have been prompted by our participation in this group, I’ve been led to reflect on how complicated our society (and myself in particular) seem to make our daily lives. We fill our homes, our schedules, and our brains with unnecessary “stuff,” all the while searching for the next thing that could make us “happy” or “satisfied.”

Why do we need this stuff? It’s a hard question to answer, and it’s also an very individual one. I want to look at each of the sections separately: excess in our homes, excess in our schedules, and excess in our minds. For today, I’ll just start with the first one.

Excess in Our Homes

There are many of us out there that fall into the trap of consumerism without even realizing it. The false gods of consumer goods rule our lives; we fixate on the next neat gadget or how to throw a party with pizzaz or how to get the most beautiful bedroom set. Or perhaps there is smaller stuff: the magazines we subscribe to unnecessarily (who reads all of the magazines they get, really?), the picture frames, the latest exercise gear that we will use for a month and then forget. The fancy scrapbooking tools. The necklace to match that outfit. The throw pillows that we sooooo cheap that we had to get them. The new sweater to put in the pile of 10 other sweaters. The ipod accessory. Fill in the blank with your latest toy.

But it’s not about feeling guilty that we have things; rather, it’s more about becoming conscious consumers. “Conscious” is the key word here. Are we really conscious when we buy things, or is it just another form of mindless eating? Do we know exactly why we “need” it, how often we’ll use it, the true price of what we are spending, where the item came from, and whether or not we could manage without it? Do we think before we swipe the plastic card and sign happily away? I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t often enough.

And so “stuff” accumulates. Things that I had a momentary fancy for, things that I felt I couldn’t live without. In the meantime, there are people living in trash heaps that would be overjoyed for one pair of used shoes.

So how do we simplify? I heard recently that the best way to simplify the overaccumulation of stuff is to first take an inventory. Become aware. Write down all the stuff you have–all of it. It will be time consuming, and it will be humbling. But it should be documented. We should all become aware of what we think we possess, what we hold so tightly to as to let it create our self-perceived identity.

Once you have your inventory, figure out what you need, what you want, and what you simply have but neither need nor want (for some reason, we cling to a lot of stuff in this last group). Analyze your findings. Now that you are aware of all the belongings, figure out what is really necessary in your life–and be honest.

The next step is to assess what to do next. What is realistic for you? All of the things you have found that are unnecessary…what can you do with them? Do you want to donate them? Put them up on Craigslist or Ebay so that someone else can enjoy them? Is there stuff that actually should be thrown away? Assess your options.

Finally, it’s time to take action. You’ve done the hard work, now it’s time to follow through on your commitment to simplify. If this step seems too overwhelming, break it down into pieces and dates/times so that it feels less scary. For example, one step in your action plan might be: “By Tuesday, September 16th, I will have taken a picture of our old barbeque and written up a description for it. By Wednesday, 9/17, I will have put it up for sale on Craigslist. If it hasn’t sold by Friday, 9/26, we will donate it to St. Vincent Society.” If you make little steps like this, it doesn’t feel like you have to toss/donate/sell everything in one weekend, and it’s a little less jarring to the psyche as well.

Oh yes–one more thing. As we commit to simplify together, we can’t forget a crucial element: Don’t replace the stuff you just cleared out with new stuff! A spending diet will have to accompany your new, simpler lifestyle. But don’t worry; just as any lifestyle change, it will get easier as time passes and you continue to commit to the change.

Ignatian spirituality talks a lot about attachment. Simplifying our homes is one way to free ourselves from worldly attachment. After all, how much do we really need? The best things in life aren’t just financially free; they’re also found by being free from bondage to our “things.” Strip down the posessions, make yourselves bare. We can risk it together.