Wednesday, December 21, 2005

All that you can't leave behind....

I was awake in the night again last night....tossing, turning...thinking about my house in Michigan....thinking about it lit up with white lights all through the front porch, a fresh, green tree decorated in the front room, the kitchen that was so often full of friends. I was sad and lonely for it. I love that house like I love a person....like I love myself really, as I always felt that it was an extention of myself....my creativity, my personality, my sweat and blood and tears. I filled every room with a staggering amount of stuff because I could be as creative and extravagant as the myriad garage and estate sales allowed me. Those of you who love houses know what I am talking about and those of you who don't think that I am crazy.

I used to think that one house could do it all....it could be perfect for your lifestyle...for your family....for your future. I used to think that you could make it bend to what you wanted it to be, and that is sometime true, but if you have to live one way in a house....say with a porch or a basement or a garage....you aren't living another way....with muddy footprints in the kitchen or on a crawl space or with the car out in the elements. Do you see how the house causes you to live a certain way?

As we consider buying Hollyhock House, I am considering what this house dictates for our lifestyle. I've come to understand that no house can be everything. I'm trying to decide what we can't live without and what we can leave behind. It's more spiritual for me than just, "Well, in Arkansas, you don't have to worry about the car being out in four feet of snow." We live differently here. And if we live differently, it changes us. I think more here. (Some of you are shaking your heads....like I didn't think TOO MUCH already!) I am neater. The space is smaller, so I reconsider what I must have, and what is fine to live without. And when I am tempted to say, "I NEED such and such from the storage unit" I am reminded that I have lived two and half months without it and have survived easily without it. It feels simpler.

I am trying to sort out what I need and what I don't need in my spiritual life. I am trying to decide what is necessary to church and what are just social tchochkies. I am trying to value only things that really matter, not just what matters in the opinions of other people. It feels very complex.

Some of you are reading and groaning....You were part of the Herculean effort to get all our worldly possessions into a truck that was never going to hold it all. When I go to the storage unit, I will feel again that I must have these things. I am always struck though, when I watch a decorating show, or an organizational show, they never say, "Boy, you really need some more stuff! Your space is too simple! You don't have nearly enough!" I like how living here is affirming what must be true in both our physical and spiritual life: Simplicity is better. Less is more. Very little actually IS "All that you can't leave behind...."

"One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. "

"He has shown, thee, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee: But to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God."

5 comments:

ash said...

i couldn't agree more, nessa-bean...i'm always telling friends "do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you?"
i remember a missionary couple that i met in scotland..they sold their beautiful cape cod home to move into a spare room at a tiny little church half way across the world. they didn't even have a shower and they couldn't have been happier.
john and i's house is constantly in the process of becoming our home. when we bought it, it was nothing special. it lacked personality and was just one more cookie-cutter home just like the one next door. but it's not the stuff we put into it that makes it our home now; it's the story of the stuff we put into it, the time we spend working together on it, the "arguments" over carpet or tile etc. etc. etc..
whether it's the hollyhock house or another house, you will make it your home, with or without a front porch.
by the way, whatever happened to that green cow basket you got as a wedding present?

ness said...

you are a great example of an editted approach!

you do remember who gave us the cow basket, right?

ash said...

tee-hee-hee!
when in doubt, chuck it out!

Josh Powers said...

I wish you had left behind that U2 CD. It's my favorite U2 album (not that I've heard them all), and remembering the songs and imitating them poorly on my guitar is not the same.

Courtney said...

hey Sis,
At first, I was reading your post, thinking "at least you OWNED a house." Being married to a gypsy has certainly messed with my very Irish mentality of being on the same plot of dirt all my life and being a piece of that dirt. Ron often says I need to bring back a couple of jars of PA so I'll stop being so homesick for the trees and field and flower beds. but I digress...
If renting has taught me anything it's that I never owned it anyways. We'll pack up again from here and go to another lived-in space that isn't ours and it will still be home because Dora will run through it laughing and wanting to be chased and we'll gather around the table and talk about our days and I'll still be meeting Ron at some front door somewhere to kiss him hello. There's no mortgage on memories.
Someday, I'll eventually be able to convince Ron to buy a house and it will be filled with all my bake wares and cake plates and books to the ceiling but then I'll be thinking of the simple days when the landlord fixed the pipes and it didn't matter if Dora stained the carpets.
The other day, I bought some dryer sheets and when I opened them up, they smelled just like Ron and my first apartment and I was carried off to the days when rent was $225 and I couldn't open the fridge and the oven at the same time. But life was sweet there and someday, I'll tell Dora all about it.
If HH becomes home, God bless it and you all. If not, God bless it and you all.
I don't know what all the fuss was about that basket--it was the height of their tastes really.

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