|"St. Francis weds Lady Poverty" - allegory by Giotto|
It was about six or so years ago that I realized that I was snowed under by way too much stuff. Too many choices, too many pieces of clothing, too much makeup (why does anybody need 12 tubes of lipstick?), too many dishes, ornaments, too much furniture, a house too big for our needs, too many things, things, things!!! It had all coalesced into a huge albatross that flapped and squawked about our necks and caused terrific head and backaches.
Accordingly, I (make that we) made a private vow of poverty - to live with a minimum of possessions, and to endeavor to live even without those if called upon to give them.
During these six years I have had to purge at least a dozen times. No matter what I give away out the front door, something sneaks in the back door and takes up residence. Either that or stuff reproduces when I am not looking...
Maybe it's like keeping gerbils or something.
Anyway - practicing poverty requires a certain level of ruthlessness in this society. The siren song of "more" is ever before our faces and we have to determinedly look away.
I went to a seminar on voluntary poverty at our parish a few years ago and was both gratified and astounded. Gratified because it was very well attended. Astounded because of the attendees most of them were very well-off and they spent a great portion of the seminar justifying their goods and chattels, and saying that there was nothing wrong with being rich, but that one must be careful that they didn't start thinking they were better than others because of it, and similar statements. It was surreal.
I think they wanted to be blessed for their wealth. Of course, then I had to chastise myself for being so (%&# judgmental. It is true that real poverty of spirit incorporates charity of thought!
I need to be so very careful of my thoughts and judgements. For instance - I often see those who I know have a lot of money and who spend a great deal on their pleasure and possessions, their wants and whims, put a dollar in the collection basket. (I get roped into taking up collection a lot of the time. Is this to keep me challenged?) At the time I so want to turn them upside down and shake them until they fork over a substantial amount! Then I have to figuratively smack myself upside the head to remind me to have some charity. I don't know their thoughts, and I don't know their struggles and I've been there myself so how dare I entertain these prejudicial thoughts about them?
Humility is a bear.
Charitable thoughts are a bear.
Poverty is great - just a bear to attain voluntarily.
So many bears, so little strength. May God's grace shine on me and keep me grateful!
|Lots of bears|