Coming to know ourselves as Spirit is a process. Every one of us possesses a complete catalogue of impressions and stories about who we think we are. This catalogue contains not only our own notes, entries and observations but also the notes, entries, marginal scribblings and stories from family members, relatives, friends—close and distant, chance meetings and a great number of sometimes unsolicited comments from complete strangers.
With all of this input, it can be difficult to come to know the Light that resides in our individual hearts, and it may—at times—seem impossible to learn to listen for and abide by the gentle nudges and leadings from Spirit.
A few years ago, as a household, we came to a point where most of our personal belongings were necessity based. We made the move toward physical simplicity in an effort to discover who we really were and to be better able to listen for guidance from the Light. We wanted to know how we would spend our time, if we were free to follow our leadings, while not being overly involved in the care and upkeep of a great number of belongings. The conscious reduction in belongings afforded us the time we needed for long, contemplative walks, prayer, meditation and devotional work.
On one long weekend, during this phase in our lives, I travelled to see a dear friend who was also in the process of simplifying her physical life. While I was with my friend, we went through various collections she had amassed over the years. One collection was particularly charming; it was a set of exquisitely patterned, English tea tins.
While assisting my friend with the sorting process, everything fell into two, dichotomous piles either “Donate” or “Keep”–until we came to the sorting of the tea tins. Then, as we began to approach the tins, my friend turned to me to say, “Why don’t you take some of these tins home for yourself to enjoy?”
With her suggestion, what I perceived to be the warning bells of excess began sounding in my head. Yet, beyond this commotion, there was a quieter, deeper and larger sense, which when given voice, came through in this way, “Julian, you are hurting yourself by not allowing beauty back into your life.”
This internal response made some sense to me, as I had been trained academically as a visual artist.
Before answering my friend, I paused to consider the myriad of other recent nudges and leadings that had appeared during my quiet time. One encouragement involved shifting from prepackaged teas to a selection of loose teas, which are available in bulk through a local health-food store. From an environmental point of view, this change seemed completely appropriate for our household, as it would significantly reduce the amount of packaging waste we would be generating on a daily basis.
“Yes,” I answered tentatively. “I would like that very much.”
Now, our sorting featured three piles: “Donate,” “Keep” and “Julian.” Selection and sorting went more quickly with this change in procedure and with my friend knowing that some of her beloved collection would be going to a good home and a good cause.
When I returned to my own home days later, I carefully unpacked the English tins. After everything was unwrapped and out on display, I was surprised by how much lighter and shinier I felt inside. And, although we technically had acquired more “stuff,” this one change-of-living habit, would significantly aid our being able to live a more environmentally conscionable lifestyle.
When I meet with friends and acquaintances, desiring to live lives closer to their hearts, the most common concern I hear is that they will be “asked” or guided to do something that goes against “the who” they perceive themselves to be. It is important, here, to remember that catalogue of notes, entries and stories. This catalogue is open to revision—complete revision—if we desire it. And, Grace will assist you, time and again, as you make life-affirming choices delivering you closer to the Light in your heart and “the who” of who you are–pure Spirit.