Do the impossible

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
St. Francis of Assisi

This photograph is an image of one of the beautiful Umbrian valleys surrounding the peaceful hill town of Assisi. The view of this sweeping valley is one that Francesco Bernardone, later known simply as St. Francis, gazed upon most assuredly, often. There is indeed a serenity to this area of Italy, as it issues, beckoning and inviting, a whisper that seductively yet warmly calls out to anyone who is restless of spirit.

I imagine that a young Francesco often retreated to these hills, forlorn and heavy of heart, as he wrestled within himself….the young troubadour and dandy whose days and nights were idly filled with shallow friends and raucous wanton carousing…and yet, all the while inwardly, Francesco was so very heavy with conflicting emotions. A crisis of self. A crossroads with soon to be explosive results.

What better place to contemplate ones life.

The air heavy with the scent of jasmine, the wind gently stirring the grasses covering the endless hillsides as the sun radiantly sparkles in a deep Giotto blue sky. I imagine our young Francesco laying on his back nestled in the swaying grass, arms folded behind his head, gazing skyward wondering why he was so unhappy. Fretful, unsettled, burdened.

When God calls, there is no stopping what then follows… we can never go back and we can never be the same. We may run as hard and as fast as we can in the opposite direction. We run out of fear and even out of anger. We fight the call by denying His very existence–we go to the brink of the abyss, but He will stand fast…waiting.

The conflict within will come to a crashing crescendo. The chaos colliding with the Divine. The old self must die giving way to a new birth of a new self. That is the miracle. Not so much the great and grand works we then are to accomplish but rather that we are transformed and reborn–that we are changed forever.

Saul had his road to Damascus. He was a mercenary answering really to no one but himself. He was paid to uncover and route out the new rebellious lot of the followers of the crucified man from Nazareth. Much like a modern day hit man or assassin. He went about his paid commission with steely and unemotional precision. The job paid well and he actually sadistically enjoyed it.

Sometimes our hearts are so cold and blind that our eyes must be blinded in order to get our attention. Extreme living often requires extreme turn abouts. It matters not how hard we may live, how bad, how destructive we wish to be, when the call comes, as it most likely will, we will be purged.

Are you restless of spirit, are you troubled…or are you seemingly living the perfect life, happy and supposedly content, yet there is just something unsettled deep within? Perhaps you must seek the solitude of self in order to determine the cause of the wrinkles of heart. Is God calling, beckoning…is there greatness in you that even you yourself deny?

We all have our time contemplating our existence, our roads to Damascus—the question remains… how long will we travel and contemplate before we finally recognize the One who is calling? How long will it take until we are ready to do the job we are called to do by the One who knows that we are the only one who can do this one particular chore….

We may run, but we cannot hide….When He calls, there will be no turning back…..Why is it then that you are still running so very fast so very far away…..He will stand fast, He will wait—you are needed to do the impossible.

Clutter, Clutter everywhere

“Out of clutter, find simplicity.”
― Albert Einstein
(photograph:storefront window / Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2013)

I was walking down the sidewalk of a side street, late yesterday evening, while on a quick trip to Savannah, Georgia, when I stumbled upon a most interesting storefront. At first I wasn’t quite certain as to what type of business this actually was that I had wandered upon. There was a poor old philodendron plant that ran the length of the inside window of the store. Dead leaves out numbered the living leaves and were scattered along the very sad sprawling vine running the length of the storefront window. It was perched amongst dirt, magazines, keys, and junk. It needed pruning, cutting, watering and simply a good cleaning…the window itself– filthy.

The store was full of “stuff” that sparkled in the fading sun; immediately drawing ones eye inside to the massive array of keys dangling from a million hooks– like that of a groaning tree struggling under the weight of a million shining Christmas ornaments hanging on for dear life– covering each and every wall. There were several old time cash registers… one propped up by the door, another perched on an old timey safe far too small for the register. There were old lanterns hung precariously from the rafters, tin and various old metal salvage items laying on the floor….

Was this some sort of Antique store, junk store, locksmith or all of the above? It did catch my eye and it strangely beckoned me to come in to explore. However it was well after 5, closing time long past….Beckoning and yet repelling at the same time—made me a little nervous. It was dirty, dusty but interesting…….

Ecclesiastes 3:6….a time to keep and a time to throw away….

I too have accumulated a great deal of “stuff” over this lifetime of mine. Things that are mine and my husband’s, things that were Mother’s, things that were my grandmother’s, my great-aunt’s, my grandfather’s, my son’s left behinds, my future daughter-n-law’s transition things, and now my dad’s things….family treasures that are now “cluttering” my house and my world. But everything seems to have a story, a connection…what stays, what needs to go…..I can’t seem to let go.

I had vowed that once I retired it was time for me to “let go” of so much of my “clutter”… but so much of the “stuff,” my stuff, is compiled from the very pieces of my life. My past and these “things” are parts of the connections to and with my past. And yet, as I have read so very much about Francesco Bernardone and of his conversion…of his literal take on God’s often metaphoric words, of his stripping himself of all of his worldly connections, including his clothing..leaving him naked, exposed and yet free to take up the simple cloak of a simple man whose only desire in life was to hear God’s word, to follow His word and to live His word…..

How can any of us attempt to hear and follow, just as St Francis heard and followed…how can we do that and do that very well while we attempt to manage all of the “stuff” in our lives? The “stuff” which requires so much of our attention, our concern, our worries….it gets in the way, it blocks a clear cut path, it’s burdensome….and yet we cling to it so tightly……The old cliche “you can’t take it with you” rings so very true and yet we are all so overpacked with all of our clutter.

St Francis knew the answer. Einstein’s quote states the answer. Ancient scripture teaches the answer…SIMPLICITY. Learning to live a life of simplicity verses the standard chaos and clutter is no easy task. Our western society’s motto has always been bigger and more is always better. From biggie sizing our food to our desire for name brands and luxury items, to always acquiring the latest technology. As soon as you walk out of a store with, say, the latest and greatest phone, a new more advanced device is advertised the very next week, leaving you yearning for the new toy and feeling “less than” with the old toy, which was brand new itself the previous week—leaving you with a drawer full of really good phones, just not the latest and greatest…..a vicious cycle indeed and sadly a genius of mass marketing…

So perhaps we are often “victims” of our own clutter. We fall into the marketing and sales traps…those slick sales gimmicks that insidiously slink into our brains taking control of our very will power and wallets without so much as nary our knowledge…..we must fight the desire and simply say, “NO”– no more, I have enough thank you very much—-my house is fine, my car is good, my clothes are nice, my furniture is functional…but what about the economy you say, we must do our part to keep the economic growth in our country….yada, yada, yada…. See what I mean—it’s a vicious cycle indeed.

Now back to my clutter and less is more….
I will leave you today pondering this dilemma of mine and no doubt of your very own…time to down size just as Dad is saying you’ve got to come get everything out of the basement and don’t you want Mom’s this and that…..the list goes on.

Maybe there is just a little more space in the basement……..