“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” - Matthew 6:24-26a
Don’t worry about what I am to eat or drink or wear. Okay, Jesus. Well, I’m not much of a worrier, so I’m okay, right? Except that all that stuff on the above pictured truck belongs to me. Just one person.
I want to believe that I am not a particularly materialistic person. And yet, there’s all this stuff. And, truthfully, it felt really good to see it all again when it arrived after being in storage for four months. There were the rest of my clothes - and dishes and books and furniture and memorabilia… Sigh. I have to admit that I am somewhat of a ‘material girl,’ to quote Madonna.
I have moved many times in my life and moving has been an opportune time for me to purge what no longer is needed or has value for me, although I tend to do that once or twice a year anyway. I did that again before this move, taking at least a couple of car trunk-loads to the Habitat ReStore. And I sold a few pieces of furniture and a lawnmower. So, how did I still end up with almost an entire moving van for just me? My household goods could probably supply an entire third world village.
Years ago, when Hurricane Hugo was threatening the southern Atlantic coastline, I was living in Savannah, Georgia. Forecasters really didn’t know where the storm was going to hit, so I – like many others – evacuated Savannah and went to stay with my cousins near Columbia, SC. I had to decide what of my stuff (and there was a lot less of it then!) was important enough to try to fit it into my car. What would be so critical that, if everything else was destroyed, it would all be okay? What was I willing to let go of? I had finished my second thesis project at SCAD the day before, so in went my resumé and my portfolio of work, so I could at least (hopefully) get a job. In went a quilt that I had been hand-piecing for years. In went photo albums, of course. I don’t remember what else I took, except for some clothes. But as I drove away from my little apartment, I do remember giving it all to God and saying thank you for what I had enjoyed to that point. If it wasn’t there when I got back, I knew that God, who had already blessed me with so much, would help me start over. I let go.
As I am unpacking boxes from this move, I’ve already started a pile for Habitat and Goodwill, wondering, ‘Why on earth did I bother to move that?’ Much of what I have has sentimental value connected to family and friends, or to trips that I have taken. As I handle those things, I treasure the memories, giving God thanks for these relationships and opportunities that have brought such joy. Marie Kondo and “Swedish death cleaning” have gotten very popular. They really are helpful in getting us to think about what we need versus want, and what things truly bring us joy. And then letting go of the rest.
Does my ‘stuff’ get in the way of my worship of and relationship with God? Yes, yes, it probably does, more than I realize or am truly willing to admit. And yet, I see the material things in my life as symbols or reminders of the many blessings God has showered upon me. Could I let go of it all so easily again? I believe, except for my cats, Nicholas and Nelson, yes. I would prefer not to find out the hard way, but I trust in God because God has always provided, in abundance. One of my favorite pieces of liturgy is from the opening anthem in the burial office, “For none of us has life in himself, and none becomes his own master when he dies. For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord, and if we die, we die in the Lord. So, then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s possession.” In the end, it is not my possessions that matter. What matters is that I am the Lord’s possession. And that is worth letting go of everything.