Sermon, September 27th, 2015
Reverend Lisa Day
“20 Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
“The Art Ministry Installation & Display Catalog” is now available on Apple’s iBooks store. The cost is $9.99 and ⅓ of proceeds go to First Presbyterian Church of Hightstown. The description says 38 pages, but it’s more like 120. The download is 90 megs, and will open automatically in iBooks on Mac or iPad. On PC I recommend using the Chrome browser with the free Readium add-on (readium.org). Your feedback is welcome!
September 13th, 2015 – Will this be on the Test?
Farewell Tribute to Kathy Toth
Reverend Lisa Day
Ok, I hope I’ve gotten your attention. But this isn’t about geopolitics, it’s about cleaning my house. I seem to have a rare talent: cleaning out clutter. The thread title says it all. I’m absolutely ruthless about it. To give you an example:
As a lifelong artist, I accumulated hundreds if not thousands of sketches, drawings, and paintings. They were all stored in the house I grew up in. When my mom moved out of that house after living there for 60 years, it was my job to remove the artwork. I had been promising to remove the artwork for years; the problem was, I had no place to put it. Since mom was moving, she happened to have a dumpster in the driveway. That’s where I put the artwork. All of it. It was a part of my life that wasn’t really that important to me anymore.
Not that I didn’t have any feelings about it. I did. But I’ve gotten to a point where being free of clutter is more important than whatever it is that’s making up the clutter. Empty space is more valuable than the stuff you’re currently keeping in it, in general. I realize this is a somewhat zenlike concept and may be impossible for some to accept, digest, or even understand.
To the Point
My wife was a hoarder. It was one of our greatest bones of contention. She died a year ago; September 8th was the date. Since then I have gone through this house like Sherman’s march to the sea. Some of it, I admit, is vengeful. Some is simply liberating. I mention it now because this is the first time I have ventured into her office, her private space, to do this kind of work.
How to Choose
What stays? What gets given away? What goes in the trash? Obviously this is a very personal decision. But some of the stuff is easier to decide on than others: anything absolutely generic (blank, scrap paper and envelopes, partially used paper towels and plastic bags) goes in the trash. Any used personal items or cosmetics go in the trash. Lipsticks, eyeliners, contact lenses, lens cleaning fluid.
Impersonal generics like office supplies—pads, post-its, pens, pencils, staplers, paper clips—goes in the giveaway pile. That takes care of the easy stuff.
Then there’s the grey area. Personal items like jewelry, chatchkas, eyeglasses, handwritten notes, toys, photos….I may make it sound like I’m heartless but it is actually possible to get sentimental about a handwritten grocery list. So these need more careful consideration.
When faced with heaps of this kind of material, most of which didn’t mean much to me, even as a memory or connection with my wife, there’s a certain amount of confusion. Am I committing a crime by releasing the things that may have been important to Bobbi? As a solution, I made the effort, first, to invite my wife’s sister and daughter to go through everything and take what was important to them. Having some of the hoarder genetics themselves, that took care of about 85% of what was there so far. The remaining heaplet is mine to go through, perhaps on another day.
Some items are obviously important — handmade gifts from myself to my wife and from her to me; things that are connected to important memories or that I’m just so used to seeing that a recessive hoarder gene in myself takes over and I can’t let it go.
This time of year was when Bobbi and I first got together, and we recognized it as our anniversary. It was also a time when, almost like clockwork, we would go through the house and make changes or improvements. Maybe it’s that autumn mammalian instinct to get busy. The tale is, of necessity, unfinished.
Connections is the weekly calendar publication of the First Presbyterian Church of Hightstown. It has been published every Friday since January, 2010. Complete archives are on the church’s website at http://hightstownpres.org/connections/