Tumbling in the Sand
I mentioned in my first reflection for Lent that I have been feeling the need to open space up in my life. Space, as in time on my calendar, as in less stuff in my house, as in less weight on my body so I can move, as in clearer sense of priorities, etc. So, this will probably be a topic of a number of my posts during Lent as I continue to learn what this means for me, because this is a bit of an amorphous and potentially overwhelming thing.
Anyway, because I’ve felt the need to find space (and because I made it a bit of a new year’s resolution), I’ve taken to “reading” (yay Audible) books about the subject that seem relevant. When I’m not sure what to do, this is always where I start … clearly, I’m the child of a teacher and a librarian. And, clearly, I’m searching. So, I’ve read books on simplification (read: The Year of Less by Cait Flanders), that lead to a book on decluttering (not Marie Kondo … I tried that years ago and it just isn’t an approach that worked for me … though her clothes folding techniques changed my life. I read Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana White. Far more my speed.) and that lead to a book on the Clarity Cleanse that I don’t recommend. And that led to books on minimalism. I think that what I’ve learned through these books (along with interesting little tidbits and inspiration along the way) is that I’m seeking a more minimalist life.
I’d heard of minimalism before and thought it was interesting … but perhaps a bit extreme. I’m not interested in living in a micro-home or be able to put all my possessions in a backpack … Though I’m learning that my assumptions about minimalism aren’t really correct. And, I very much appreciate a friend of mine, Becca Ehrlich’s, thoughts on the intersections of Christianity and minimalism (check out her blog here: https://www.christianminimalism.com/), which I think helps to counter some of the naked selfishness that I hear in some of what I read from some minimalist spokespersons.
But, I’m still not so sure about the label. Though there was an interesting intersection for me today that inspires me to continue. And to maybe start, well, pruning.
A couple of days ago I was listening to The Minimalist Mindset by Danny Dover and he said something helpful. He said, “You have to subtract to add.” This struck me as incredibly useful as someone who keeps feeling like I should be doing more, being more, writing more, etc … And so, I’ve been pondering it the last couple of days. Well today, I received in my inbox a reflection from the Society for St. John the Evangelist, which is called “Brother, Give Us A Word” and quite literally, it is a daily word. You can sign up for it, if you like. Anyway, the word today is “Prune.”
The paragraph that accompanied the word is:
Awaken to the voice deep within, telling you what should be pruned, and risk acting. As you do, notice that Jesus, the master gardener, has already come alongside with perceptive, loving eyes and pruning shears in hand so that you may live and bear much fruit.-Br. Luke Ditewig
Society of Saint John the Evangelist
This is not an unfamiliar image to me. One of the first sermons I ever preached was about Jesus as the master gardener pruning us. I titled it “Pruning is Invigorating” after a quote from a professor of mine, Dr. Deyton, who told us as much as he taught us how to properly prune apple trees in a Fruit and Vegetable crops class. Pruning is necessary for trees to bear fruit. Pruning is necessary for plants to be healthier, live longer, and keep them beautiful.
Our lives aren’t that different. I had, though, up until this point, simply thought about pruning as life events that “trained” me back, that humbled me, that put my “fancies” back in place and opened me to different possibilities, and challenged me. I had not thought about pruning as removing the excess … which, seems silly really, because that’s what pruning is — removing excess. Removing excess to make room for new growth, for flowers and fruit, for health.
So, I guess, I should do some pruning. Though, maybe I should, based on this reflection, not so much do the pruning but listen for what Jesus would rather I prune … and then follow through. I just hope that the Spirit might be kind enough to guide my clumsy hands with the pruning shears.