Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lenten Voices: Shoeboxes

By Kate Rickard

On Tuesday I sat on my bed eating a Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar and feeling slightly sorry for myself. And so, like any other American woman who is feeling down on a Tuesday afternoon, I turned on Oprah. The screen flickered to life and there was Oprah, listening with her mouth hanging open in incredulity to a woman who claimed her life had been utterly changed. I stopped eating and leaned closer, feeling in that moment such desperation for change that I surprised myself.

The woman shared that her transformation began one day when she opened her closet door. Her shoe boxes, stacked 7 rows high above her on closet shelves, came crashing down on top of her and she crumpled to the ground under their weight. She was literally buried underneath her last-minute, must-have, already-forgotten purchases. This avalanche caused her to re-think her priorities and simplify her life.

I decided this story was a sign that I had been avoiding my own “shoeboxes” long enough. So I turned off the TV to take a few minutes to stop and reflect on my life.

I finally listened to the inner voice of truth that had been whispering to me. I, too, feel buried in possessions, striving and covetousness. It is easier to keep buying and to keep going… and accumulating… and working… and consuming… and driving… and deciding… and moving… and watching… and saying yes...than to stop and tend to my soul and what is truly of value in my life. Having been so constantly in motion, the stillness and silence moved me to recognize my bankruptcy as one who invests in insignificant, forgettable things that literally trap me beneath their weight.

Barbara Cawthorne Crafton* writes the following about this state many of us find ourselves in: “How did we come to know that we were dying a slow and unacknowledged death? And that the only way back to life was to set all our packages down and begin again, carrying with us only what we really needed?”

I came to recognize this death in myself as I watched a woman share her story on Oprah. This Lent, I once again set aside my need to consume and this frantic living that threatens to bury me. I choose to stop and sit a while. And I will take my time selecting those essential things that I need for the journey ahead.

Crafton finishes, “We travail. We are heavy-laden. Refresh us, O homeless, jobless, possession-less Savior. You came naked and naked you go. And so it is for us. So it is for all of us.”

*From Living Lent by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton

Kate Rickard has attended St. Paul's for over 2 years and is in discernment for Holy Orders. She loves hiking, eating chocolate, and spending time with her husband, Jordan, and shiba-pug, Henry.

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