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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

40 bags of stuff

This is a very personal post for me, somewhat out of the ordinary, and not about a hobby, but about how I live my life, or the life I want to live. Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the religious season of Lent. As a Catholic, I consider the period from Ash Wednesday to Easter to be a very important time of year. I try to spend Lent as a time for reflection, for betterment of myself and the world around me, and for spiritual growth. One tradition of Lent is to "give something up." In the not so olden days, people used to give up "rich" food for Lent, hence Fat Tuesday, the day when people would eat all the sweets and yummy foods from their house, so they wouldn't be there during Lent. It makes me think of the movie Chocolat. As a child I would give up things like cookies or TV time, but for the last ten years or so, I've really tried to focus on something that causes growth, and an overall change in my life - rather than chomping down on candy for breakfast on Easter morning after 40 days without. When I first started thinking about Lent a few weeks ago, I had focused in on giving up corn syrup. Corn syrup hides in so many things, and I've been fairly laissez faire about checking the ingrediants and removing it from my home. Giving up corn syrup would force me to focuse more on the processed foods I bring into our house was my rationale. But on Sunday, three days before Ash Wednesday, I realized I was going to give something else up for Lent, my stuff.

I was raised to be overly sentimental, and overly practical. If a piece of paper might contain a memory, I keep it - and if I'm not currently using something, but might need it some day, I keep it. I'm a keeper, and my stuff has filled our tiny house to its gills. This "full" house bothers my husband, he wants a more empty space for a more visually serene environment. I know getting rid of my stuff will make my husband happy. And when it comes down to it, isn't happiness what we're all looking for? And really, is the program from a play I attended 5 years ago making me happy, here, in this moment? No. Is an old t-shirt I might wear if I ever need an old t-shirt giving me a better homelife with my husband? No.

My lenten sacrifice is my stuff - 40 bags of stuff, one for each day. On Easter morning, I want to be able to say that 40 bags of things went to Goodwill or into the recycling bin. I want our house to feel 40 bags less full.

I think it will be a good Lent. And if Lent is part of your life, I hope it goes well for you also. And because I believe in giving credit for inspiration, I was looking at this particular blog post on Sunday when the metaphorical scale tipped and my lenten sacrifice became clear for me. http://www.rareandbeautifultreasures.com/2011/01/picture-window.html Its funny, because this post from a blog I follow is over a month old, but somehow, I never saw it until this day. It is like God led me to it, nudging my heart and my head in the right direction.


  1. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.

    I've been clearing out stuff in a "spring clean" effort that started in January and I can't believe how different my little apartment feels. You're going to love it when it's done.

  2. I love this sentiment and I might have to copy it on a smaller scale over at my house. That sounds wonderful.