As we were getting ready for bed last night we got talking about how much stuff we have. We’re reminded of this regularly since our main storage area also has the laundry and a shower in it—so you see these things that you don’t really use very often. Some of it is definitely important like our winter clothes, my drum cases, and some bins of old papers and/or toys from our childhoods. Sometimes it feels like the wall of storage is encroaching on the rest of the room! If we were in a bigger place we’d probably have it tucked away somewhere else. But in the same breath, we’d also have bought more stuff to fill a larger home! Endless cycle!
One of the things I love about Sarah is that she’s so good at deciding what is important to keep and what she’ll never really use again. She goes through her clothes on a regular basis and what she doesn’t think she’ll use anymore she gives away. When I was a kid and a teenager Mom would do the same with me: sit me down and we’d go through the old cupboard. Cleanse things out. Make room for what we actually need for today.
I’m thinking of looking at spiritual disciplines as a series for Sunday school in January. I’ve been wanting to do something with Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline for some time now, but I’m still not sure this is the best outlet. The chapters in Celebration are already so well arranged that I think any one of them would be hard to present in a 45-minute segment. Also Foster highlights 12 disciplines…and I have room for maybe 4-5! So I’d have to pick some and skip others. Part me of just wants to hand copies of the book out: “Here. Read this through and then come back and we’ll talk about it when you’re done.” I wonder how’d that go over?
The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reorientation which, in turn, transforms the way we go about living life. Inward to outward, always both. What begins inside of us will permeate our outward experiences. Out of the heart the mouth speaks, so I’ve heard. Here’s Foster:
Contemporary culture lacks the inward reality and outward lifestyle of simplicity. We must live in the modern world, and we are affected by its fractured and fragmented state. We are trapped in a maze of competing attachments. One moment we make decisions on the basis of sound reason and the next moment out of fear of what others think of us. We have no unity or focus around which our lives are oriented. …
We really must understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. … We are made to feel ashamed to wear clothes or drive cars until they are warn out. The mass media have convinced us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality. It is time we awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick. . . .We should take exception to the modern psychosis that defines people by how much they can produce or what they earn.” (Foster, Celebration of Discipline, 80-81).
Foster paints it pretty bleak, and I’m not saying that everyone is sucked into this 100%. But it’s hard not to think of real experiences when I read this. Especially the stuff about mass media. It’s one of the reasons why Apple drives me nuts. They redesign their iPods so quickly that once you buy one it’s not long before you feel that they missed out, and then you feel the need to upgrade sooner than you would really need to. It’s the same now with Amazon’s Kindle e-book readers. I’m sure the same thing goes for cellphones, but I don’t really know.
Simplicity. I’d rather ignore all the rubbish of having the newest and the fastest and get my inner life straightened out first. Out of that I know I can be a better husband, a better employee, a better son, a better drummer, a better person. The fundamental reorientation of the heart and mind, when set aright by God, can really transform our attitudes and the way we go about living day-to-day. I’m far from this. But Foster helps to point us in the right direction. I’m glad for voices like his that can cut through the system and get us thinking again.
If you’re still reading this than kudos to you! Way longer than I intended for first thing Saturday morning! Have a great weekend.