Famine in the Midst of Plenty

This isn’t about what you think it will be. (Part of me hopes my blog posts are never predictable, but that’s one more vanity to be worked on.) No, this is domestic and small-scale: a reflection on the process of moving and unpacking.

We spent several weeks before we moved clearing out superfluities β€” things we needed in Hendred but wouldn’t here. We also discarded lots of things we should have liked to have kept but which had been ruined by damp and mould, books especially. We pruned the rest of our library (painful!); we rationalised the stock of items kept for garden parties and mass catering; we still seemed to have masses of stuff and were slightly shame-faced that we needed two vans to transport it all. Little by little we are unpacking, but always with one eye on what we can reduce further. The problem is, surrounded as we are by boxes and boxes of stuff, all neatly labelled and ordered, we can’t actually find whatever it is we need at any particular moment. There are times when we can’t even find what has already been unpacked because She Who Unpacked It (let the reader understand) forgot to tell me or Bro Duncan where she had put it.

So, we are experiencing famine in the midst of plenty. There is one good thing to be said for it, however. It has reminded us powerfully how little anyone really needs. Much of what we have β€” chapel and library apart β€” is for comfort or convenience. We have always had the rule that anything not used in twelve months should be given away or otherwise disposed of, but, of course, we become lazy or forgetful. Somehow, I suspect the local recycling centre will be seeing more of us in the coming months.


5 thoughts on “Famine in the Midst of Plenty”

  1. Today’s blog post elicits the following reflection:

    My home is much in want of a good ‘clearing’, a paring down to what is essential. But, what is essential? To let go (of things) to let God. To allow the greater portion for God. The ‘essential’ in my life today has changed from what it was, reflecting a change of heart. (Is it being vain to speak of this?).

    “Chapel and library” did you say? Prayer and study are essentials, yes. And the bits that sustain these. There’s an answer. So says my heart. But how to effect this in a community of two, a marriage, where the one is not like the other in the understanding of what ‘essential’ is? Therein lies a problem.

    Prescription for self: prayer, reflection, more prayer, generous accommodation (really? am I capable of this?), back to prayer… πŸ˜‰

    Clearing out encompasses change not only in the contents of my home, but also, a process of redefining relationship to other(s). As always, easier said than done.

    Best wishes as Howton Grove Priory is brought to a godly state, inch by inch!

  2. We’ve just moved, also. I know exactly that of which you speak.
    75% of our packed boxes remain unpacked and we seem to be getting along just fine with minor exceptions.

    When Jesus told the disciples to divest themselves of all their belongings, maybe He was on to something. πŸ˜€


  3. It has reminded us powerfully how little anyone really needs.
    Your remark reminds me of the years we moved from country to country, being transferred for my husband’s job. We (with our two young daughters) usually arrived several weeks before our shipment (a small one, household effects, clothes, some books and toys). We always got habituated to living with just the minimum, enjoying the space. Then our shipment arrived, always a sort of Christmas, but also a definite invasion of our space and our lives.
    Finally, if you want to live with very little, just walk the Camino, a backpack, no more than 12-15 lbs…
    Good luck with your settling down.
    In prayers with you.

  4. When I lived in Ecuador years ago (being increasingly ancient) all I had could be fitted into a biggish rucksack. There were no shops to speak of within four hours of my home so I just didn’t accumulate stuff. Those years were still the most powerful and unforgettable of my life.

  5. As one who regularly finds herself upstairs wondering why she left the sitting room and what she might be looking for, my sympathies are all with ‘She Who Unpacked It’.

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