Since I was young I have always determined that I would not be materialistic, that I would be content with whatever little I was blessed with and, above all, that I would not be encumbered by amassing hoards of stuff.
I have moved ten times in the 14 or so years since my divorce, which should have given me some indication that I had a problem, but somehow I managed to avoid any deep awareness of what had happened.
This time, we have moved out of a relatively spacious rented house into a less spacious one. We have also chosen to move cheaply, using cars over several weekends rather than go for one big push (we have a months overlap of rent between the two properties, so why not!)
Suddenly I am confronted by just how much stuff this non-material boy has accumulated…where did it all come from, and when did the slippery slide begin?
Worst culprit of all is…my precious collection of books, now boxed and unboxed from shelves to shelves far too many times.
So I’ve been doing some heart searching. My friends tell me that there’s nothing wrong with having stuff, it’s the attitude you have towards it. By and large, I think my attitude is fine. I lend stuff, share stuff, regularly recycle stuff I’m no longer using to new homes and, (apart from my books) little is ‘sacred’.
What’s actually got to me is the sheer impracticality of trying to live a pilgrim lifestyle when every time we move on we are encumbered by all this stuff, legitimate stuff, lovely stuff, but a darned nuisance to keep packing and unpacking!
Some friends, who I have always felt had an admirable attitude towards stuff, recently moved from the Mother House of the Northumbria Community to a small monastery in mid-Wales, their worldly goods packed into a relatively modest van. On arrival, one of the other members of the monastic community is said to have remarked, “You’ve more stuff in that van than we have in the rest of the monastery.”
Makes me think!