Friday, June 14, 2013

Stewarding My Stuff

I’m thinking about a sermon I’m to give in a couple of weeks on stewarding our stuff (a way of thinking about how we are to care for, share, and render up all the material things we’ve been given) and I read of a woman’s on-going efforts to downsize her own accumulation of the stuff in her life and end up  pondering my own stuff journey.

In the early days of my adult existence, I received any and all stuff anyone wanted to give, share or cast off.  I figured I needed it (or might) since I didn’t have much stuff.  It was really as simple as that.  What I didn’t do was make any calculation about whether my need had any independent existence of its own separate from my lack of stuff – did I only need the stuff because I didn’t have stuff, or did I actually need that particular stuff?  It was a question I never thought of, let alone asked, when I was young.

Thus I ended up with quite a bit of stuff.

Then I moved to a bigger house and . . . you guessed it – even more stuff.

It was a fixer-upper of a turn-of-the-century home that had seen grander days and family, especially, rejoiced in helping me fill it with cool stuff – I became the repository for our antiques and would-be antiques – I was a co-conspirator in the acquisition of even more stuff (here’s a secret: a 17-room house fills up faster than you’d think).

Then I left my big old house and moved to a tiny apartment hundreds of miles away from home.

I went through a stuff de-acquisition phase of epic proportions.  “Everything must go” became my motto and much did.  Some was given to family, some to the annual church yard sale, some to anyone I thought might like or enjoy the stuff, some for my kids to have, some for them to borrow and some (the boxes in the basement) got thrown away.  And still I had more stuff than the apartment could hold – some went to my mother for safekeeping and some to storage.

And then I moved into a 9 (or 11 if you count bathrooms) room manse and somehow, I had plenty of stuff to fill it.  And I’ve accumulated a bit more since then too – but not much.

And as I approach a certain age, I begin to wonder when one notices, actually notices, that one is old.  Is it when you stop rearranging the furniture so your house begins to resemble a museum?  Is it when you don’t want anymore stuff for birthdays and Christmases?  Maybe it’s when you start thinking about who you’ll give this stuff to when you’re gone or just don’t want it anymore?

I love this house in which I live.  But I could do with a whole lot less stuff.

I wish I could say that makes me godly.

What I think it makes me is old.

But most days, that’s okay.  I’ve already had pretty good practice at letting go of the stuff.  I travel light and, it turns out, I travel well.  Wonder how much of the stuff will go with me next time?

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