Sunday, October 04, 2009

Thinning out

This weekend I pulled a file folder from my drawer and threw most of the contents away. I kept only one sheet, which I signed and handed over to my son. The sheet was the title to an old car which we inherited and he was taking away to fix up and sell. The other papers were various records on the vehicle - repairs, transfers of ownership, registration, etc. (Yes, I'm one of those compulsive types who keeps those things, because from time to time they really come in handy.) Of course, it made sense to throw it all away now, because my son wouldn't need them, nor would whoever he sells the car to. But the act got me thinking about the fact that I'm probably going to be doing a lot of that over the upcoming months.

We've sold our house to the state and are currently within the 90-day window we're given to find another house. Moving is going to happen within the next couple of months, and when it does, I imagine we're going to be startled at just how deep our roots have sunk into this place we've inhabited for the past quarter century. Of course there'll be the emotional component, but I'm currently facing the simple physical challenge of clearing out every nook and cranny of this place. There will be a lot of dumping of things which at one time I thought were or might someday prove valuable (or I wouldn't have kept them).

That's going to be a challenge to my cautionary mentality. Some people relish throwing things out, but I'm not one of them. I'm not as bad as my late mother-in-law (who is in a class by herself), but I like holding onto things that may still have some value. But moving is going to make me face some hard realities about just how much value some things still have. I'll have to face facts like (for example) if I squirreled something away five years ago in the chance I might need it, and I haven't needed it at all in that time, I'll probably never need it.

I imagine there's some profound life lesson awaiting me as I sort through closets and throw out years accumulated things which I once thought might have value but time has proven do not. I may even post some of what I learn here. But right now, the prospect leaves me feeling drab and desolate. I'm not looking forward to this impending thinning of my life - which is a little odd. My patron is St. Francis - whose feast is today, incidentally - and though I chose him in an moment of adolescent indecision, his example has had a surprisingly strong impact on my life. I admired and sought to emulate his example of owning little in this world in order to focus on the next. As a family we've tried not to focus on accumulating material goods. We've lived in this old home which has served our needs (pretty much), driven cars until they stopped working, not sought to have the biggest or best or newest anything unless there was a practical justification. "Franciscan" well describes the way we've sought to live and raise our family. So perhaps the thinning out of our lives which we currently face is an opportunity to see how Franciscan I really am.

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