It happened again and again!

I really don’t want to say I’m a hoarder … can we say “pack rat”?

Recently my wife and I were beginning to clean out a small storage building we have behind our house and she asked,

“How many times have we moved these boxes?”

I did not have a quick answer and did now want to even consider how many times it was. Can we just say several? Back and forth across four states that’s now counting the several moves within those states.

Can I make it clear that many of those boxes contained books. And who would want to let go of their books?

Oh … yes, it is true some of those boxes had not been opened for several years so I hadn’t gotten much use out of them. Maybe soon?

OK; so maybe I do have some problems hanging on to things, but I’m working on it. I really am!

For instance, just this past week I read an article, “A Pain-Free Way to Cut Down on the Stuff in Your Home.” I even bookmarked it so I can come back to it later.

What? Did you ask how many other articles I’ve bookmarked on decluttering? Well, I haven’t counted lately but maybe more than a few.

And then a couple of weeks ago I came across another free ebook on decluttering, so I added that to my ebook collection. Surely that was a good addition. Don’t you think so?

Did you ask if I have other ebooks on decluttering? OK, this time I did count and there are over 80.

Yes, 80! I can hear you know – when will i start doing something about this “problem”?

I told you my wife and I started working on our storage recently. Did we finish? No, not yet, but we will. Trust me!

In some ways my tendency to collect things and then acknowledge the problem, and then begin to do something about it and then … keep on collecting speaks to my similar approach to a Lenten fast.

I recognize the value a fast, the value of stepping away from some behavior, of devoting the time that behavior would have taken to another more worthy endeavor, and the fast lasts for while then it falls away. More to the point – I fall back to the behavior I had already acknowledged lacked some value for me.

What do I do?

I could fall into a guilt trip. I could “beat myself up” about the failure.

Or, maybe I can acknowledge I did something, but I want to do more.

I came across some words of Basil of Caesarea which drove home to me the “more” that moves us beyond a self-satisfying fast,

“Are you not a robber, you who consider your own that which has been given you solely to distribute to others? This bread which you have set aside is the bread of the hungry; this garment you have locked away is the clothing of the naked; those shoes which you let rot are the shoes of him who is barefoot; those riches you have hoarded are the riches of the poor” (from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro, ebook location 3174)

… those books I have boxed away and left unread and unused … whose are they?

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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