Friday, December 30, 2011

Difficulty in Letting Go

On the spirituality page of the Catholic Times a priest, who recently moved from the center house of the order, writes about what he learned in the process of moving. Since the house was being remodeled after many years of use, he and his fellow priests had to move to other, smaller houses of the order. This required putting much of their belongings in boxes to store, and taking only what was necessary to the temporary home until they could move back to the center house.

The process of moving brought to his attention that he had acquired more possessions than he needed. He had entered the community with few possessions and with the intention of living a simple life. Now, after more than 20 years, he wonders when his way of thinking changed. In his room were too many things, many of them once considered important but now much less so. "Why in the world did he keep them?" he asked himself. What would his fellow priests think, if he died suddenly, and they saw all the unnecessary objects he had gathered over the years, besides the books. They would be tut-tutting among themselves, he was sure.

The answer to why he kept so many useless objects for so long seemed obvious to him now: they brought back fond memories, and the recurring thought that someday some of it might be needed. However, among his belongings, embarrassingly, were objects whose shelf-life in memory had long ago passed. And not only was there less space in his room to move around in, he laments, but he was sure his mind had also become narrower.

He wonders how much of this 'hoarding' had to do with what psychologists call the obsessive compulsion disorder. There are many with charisma, money and influence in society with this malady. But this was no consolation to him.   

Since the New Year will soon be here, it would be a good time to give what we don't need to others who can use them. It would be a sign of our faith in a benevolent future. Giving away what we don't need now, we believe we will receive what is needed when it's needed. Letting go is a sign of our faith. What we let go of, we may come to realize we never needed.     

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