From The Rectory
March




I like it when old traditional wisdom and modern media driven enthusiasms draw people to the same conclusion! Recently a Netflix series by Marie Kondo the home organiser and author of “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” has been causing a stir. She advocates going through all your belongings and only keeping those that “spark joy” in you when you touch them. The theory is that if you get rid of all the belongings that don’t bring you joy you can live with less “stuff” and more happiness. The internet is buzzing with those who have found delight in giving up many of the possessions they have accumulated and discovering what really matters to them. Charity shops have reported an increase in quality donations from people who have realised they just don’t need all that they thought they did.

At a time when we know that the human desire for more and more is having a disastrous impact on our planet, this is a timely message. We know that we are using natural resources at a greater rate than ever before, and the impact of our activity on the fine balance of our climate, the life of our rivers and seas and the quality of our air and land is damaging. Although we know it, we need guidance and help to be able to change our habits, to remember what really makes us happy and to resist “greed”. “Greed” is rather an old fashioned word, but it describes that feeling of wanting more than we need and more than that which genuinely brings us happiness.

The old traditional Christian wisdom on offer to help with greed is a practice like keeping Lent, which begins this year on March 6th – the tradition of “fasting”, giving things up. Over recent years “giving things up” for Lent has been questioned as something we just do for the sake of it, or as a kill-joy rejection of the good things God gives us. After all, miserable Christianity should be a contradiction in terms. Jesus tells us he came so that we may have life in all its fullness. Perhaps though, the Marie Kondo effect is, firstly, reminder that having too much blinds us to the goodness of life as badly as having too little. It is that kind of greedy blindness that has been such a disaster for our planet. Secondly it highlights that the heart and purpose of any “giving up” practice is joy not deprivation.

What happens if we look at the fasting of Lent, the “giving things up” of Lent as a time of de-cluttering ourselves from all that gets in the way of the joyful lives God made us for? What if we use these weeks as a time to weed through the particular things we are greedy for and rid ourselves of them for a time, to create the space to discover what truly brings us joy: God’s life giving gifts to us. Might it offer us, and our planet, the “life changing” grace of a good Lent?

God bless,
Samantha

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