Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Asceticism

There's a movement at this time to simplify, get rid of, live with less, etc.  I'm always decluttering myself.  When I typed that last statement, I meant in my household; as in getting rid of stuff.  But rereading it, it sounds like I'm decluttering me.  And I am.  I'm always trying to be calmer. I'm always trying to go fewer places and stay home more.  That helps me stay calm.  Frantic activity doesn't agree with me anymore.  Maybe it never did, but I just know myself better now and know what gets me frazzled.

I'm reading Walking with Kathleen Norris-A Contemplative Journey by Robert Waldron.  A friend recommended her book, The Cloister Walk, years ago, and I immediately fell in love with her writing.  It's one of those books that I read every year or so.  I love it that much.

Asceticism has often been linked with self-flagellation; a misunderstanding of God's Word about the self and sin.  Therefore, the very word asceticism conjures up negativity.  But this is what Norris says about asceticism:  "It is a way of surrendering to reduced circumstances in a manner that enhances the whole person.  Modern asceticism should be a matter of simplification or a reduction of matters interfering with developing a deeper relationship with God."

Waldron says, "How much food, alcohol, sleep, work, TV, radio, and talk do we need? "  I don't think it's sinful to have more than we need.  Things are gifts from God, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.  And everyone has to draw their own line.  We need to pray for wisdom to know where that point is in our own lives.  

I am extremely visual, so I like looking at 'things'.  I think that's why I have more stuff in my house than some people.  I like going into other people's homes and looking at their books.  I like seeing sewing or art projects laid out and ready to be worked on again.  I find that interesting.

Laurel is on the opposite end of the spectrum.  She likes the Spartan approach to decorating.  She's always showing me pictures of almost white rooms with a few wooden pieces added for warmth.  Some I find too cold but others are very restful.  I think I could get a lot of thinking done in a room like that.  But when it comes to my own home, I can't do it.  I don't know why.  I like a warm, cozy home that's visually restful and stimulating at the same time.  Does that make sense?

So we both keep trying to get to the place where we say, "That's it!  I've found the perfect blend of interest and restfulness."  Thing is, I keep getting there, and six months later I'm dissastified again.  Maybe it'll always be a journey.  I'm always changing, so it makes sense that my house will always keep changing too.  So Laurel, maybe we should just enjoy the journey and quit longing for the destination?

2 comments:

charlotte carroll said...

"just enjoy the journey and quit longing for the destination?"

oh how many times I have thought this about the two of you. !!!!

Sian Draycott said...

What a great phrase in that last sentence. I think that the journey is often cast aside as we yearn for the destination. We (I) need to appreciate and engage with the present more.
Thanks for a thoughtful piece of writing.