40 bags of stuff. · Catholic stuff · Lent · My world

40 Bags of stuff

Last year I did a rather crazy thing.  I ditched 40 kitchen trash bags (or the equivalent) of stuff out of our house.  40 – yes, really.  It is amazing how much stuff was lurking in the backs of cupboards and closets and how many “extra” things I had.  Too many towels, sheets, coats, shoes, books,  small kitchen appliances… the list goes on and on.


This was started as a housekeeping exercise.  Something I did because my home needed a good dejunking.  It had been years since I had really decluttered and letting go was so liberating.  By the end I starting thinking about the processes of letting go of “stuff” as a spiritual exercise.  Sometime last summer Fr Kyle contacted me and asked about the idea of using the 40 trash bag challenge as a part of his Lenten program.  This delighted me to no end and  it got me thinking again about the whole project; what worked best and what didn’t.

40 bags. One thing I know caused some people pause was the picture of the big overstuffed black bag.  “No way could I fill forty of those bags.”   I don’t know that I could fill 40 lawn and yard bags.  My home is under 3000 sq feet.

But then again I could.  When I look at what others have, what my ancestors considered wealth, what the crazy woman with all her worldly possessions in a grocery cart have and then compare it to my well appointed 3000 sq feet I could fill up 40 huge bags.  But if I was single and living in a dorm, no – I couldn’t.    But the size of “bag” is really immaterial.  It is the consistency of everyday shedding off some of our material goods.   A grocery bag would be a better measure for some — I suppose if I was very wealthy and had multiple homes maybe something more on the lines of a truck bed full a day would work better.  The point is not the size of the bag, box or bundle, it is the act of letting go of the “stuff” a bit each day.

It should hurt a little – not a lot, but a bit.  There should be some small sense of having to sacrifice or maybe some small bit of contrition at how much we hold onto things when we could give that time and energy to God.   If you struggle as I do with organization then I am sure you have read about the theories of hording and attachment to the “stuff”.    Our environments began to posses us instead of serving us.  If you don’t deal with that particular mental vice then there is still the beauty of the words of Christ ”

24 “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?
27 Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
28 Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin.
29 But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.
30 If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
31 So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
32 All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33 But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.
34 Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

These words were said to people, many of whom could proabably put everything they personally owned  in one of my closets.

Lent – This year I am going to be doing the trash bag challenge again, but a little differently as well.  One thing I am going to do is involve the children more.   I also want to tie the days into a scripture lessons for the children.  Talking about service or giving – having a theme for our “decluttering” days.

Lent begins on February 25, two weeks from today.   Next week I will put up the plan and maybe I will figure out the Mr Linky thing too 🙂

Blogs I Know · Lent

Waiting for Rain

Over at Simple Gifts I found the above video. 

I suppose it is the greatest of Christian challenges to just live for God.  I know a great deal was made of Mother Teresa’s journals when they were release about ” The dark night of the soul” that long period of spiritual dryness that she, and so many great souls, faced.  To me it was a blessing to know how she felt.  Our world is a place where there are many dark Corners, where the light is sometimes difficult to see, or worse burning so pure and complete as to make us feel not just naked but transparent.

We are halfway through Lent and Easter is edging closer everyday.  In ways this has been a very good Lent for me, in others it has felt somewhat disconnected, I guess would be the right word.   I am looking forward to Easter.  I can feel the journey through Lent building.  When I was a child living in Eastern Oregon storms never felt sudden.  You would see clouds gathering in the distance, the wind would begin to pick-up then the smell of the rain in the distance.  Easter is like that for me this year a distant storm that grows and travels, I can feel it and hear it and smell it coming.  I am waiting in anticipation, but I am not sure exactly what will be.


Lenten Sacrifice

I gave it up for Lent.  It is almost cliche anymore isn’t it?  I don’t care I still give something up for Lent.   There are two approaches that I have taken to the Lenten sacrifice and they both seem to work well. The first is to give up something I enjoy, just for the sake of a little bit self-mortification. The other is to give up a bad habit.  Overall I favor the first method.

Lent is a time of fasting and introspection.  Ideally it is a time to dwell closer to God in preparation for Easter.  By giving something up, usually something that I would do every day, I help remind myself frequently of the reality of Lent.  In years past I have given up Chocolate, coffee, internet “play time”, television and other things that I know I will miss everyday.   Each time where I would have reached for the coffee or flicked on the TV I am reminded that for this short time I am doing something else, focusing on my Savior more deeply.

I have tried to use Lent to help jump-start getting rid of bad habits, but I find that this is slightly less “doable”.  Mainly because it somehow doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice somehow.  The other problem is that I find myself falling off the wagon as soon as Lent is over.

Fun · Lent · Uncategorized

A very early Lent

If you think Lent is really early this year you are correct.  Easter this year is nearly as early as it can be,  as you probably know Easter is celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, or the Paschal moon.  Lent begins forty days before Easter.  I was reading these interestesting facts about the date of Easter at Wikipedia:

In the Western Church, Easter has not fallen on the earliest of the 35 possible dates, March 22, since 1818, and will not do so again until 2285. It will, however, fall on March 23 in 2008, but will not do so again until 2160. Easter last fell on the latest possible date, April 25, in 1943 and will next fall on that date in 2038. However, it will fall on April 24, just one day before this latest possible date, in 2011.

The cycle of Easter dates repeats after exactly 5,700,000 years, with April 19 being the most common date, happening 220,400 times, or 3.9% compared to a mean for all dates of 162,857 times, or 2.9%.


 So, yes this is really early for Lent to start.

Books · Lent · My world

Lent 2008

Wow! Lent comes early this year.  February 6 to be exact.  That means it is almost upon us and I still have some minor Christmas decorations to store.  (mostly my end of the season floral “to good to pass up” deals).  Each year we try to make our family Lenten sacrifice something meaningful.  We also encourage the children to “give up” something within their abilities to manage.

Several years ago we gave up TV.  It worked for us, in fact after a couple years of giving up TV as a family for Lent we gave it up entirely.  We still own a TV and use it for watching videos, but we no longer have cable or any type of “station”  — I am considering hooking up some rabbit ears so I can watch Masterpiece Theater’s Complete Jane Austen.  I am ecstatic! They will be showing all the books.  I wouldn’t resubscribe to cable for it… but a set of rabbit ears I can handle.