I was helping my mother find some things in her attic the other day, when I was visiting the old house, which has this attic like all attics of those people, who have had interesting lives, and have lived a long time, an attic full of fascinating things. Mother kept asking me if I wanted this or that, and as I do not really want things, unless they are useful, like a coffee pot, or an iron, I said "no".
As I am still, "peripatetic" as I call it, I am not collecting anything more than what I have, barring a few more books some friends are sending me.
The chapel is in the attic of a friend, my books are in the basement of the same friend. My temporary room is chock-a-block with icons, books, and my suitcases, all my clothes, as well as all my papers which I am using at this time, and photographs.
A tight squeeze...
Attics always have been magical places for children, and I can remember going up into the very hot attic (pre-air conditioning days) and rummaging through Grandpa's books and Grandma's millinery stuff. Four generations of things were in that attic, and more mementoes would be added by later generations.
It was a Catholic attic, with old statues, rosaries, prayer books and missals put into various drawers of various buffets and chest of drawers.
I compare attics with people's memories, places in our selves which like attics that have to be cleaned out, have to be purged of the unnecessaries, and yes, if God so desires, even favorite memories.
The acquiring of both purity of heart and detachment demands purging.
STS and I were discussing one day, how detached we have become regarding things over the years. This, we know, is a particular grace. I could not have been such a free person, moving where God deemed fit, if I had been attached to things.
Most people desire real freedom of spirit, but do not know how to find this freedom.
One finds it in the process of dying to self.
As I sit in my half-storage room, half-bedroom, I honestly can say that I could easily walk away from the things here. What I have I have as a boon from God, but these things belong to Him, not me. Those things which bring me closer to God, I use. Those things which do not bring me closer to God, I give away.
I have nothing, and I am nothing, This realization is the key to freedom, which can lead to purity of heart.
Love is the key and the answer to the question, "How can I become detached?" When one truly desires only God, to be with Him, to rest in Him, to wait to hear His still, small voice, one is in love.
Love is why I want the House of Prayer---to be in a situation where God is first, and to have others join me in that loving commitment.
I have three ladies who said they would come and pray with me sometimes, and come on a retreat to such a house.
But, like this room, like the attic full of stuff, like the basement with my thirty-nine boxes, this prayer house would not be mine. This would be God's House, and I would merely be the caretaker.
Freedom is a gift of those who chose life over things, God over possession, love over memories.
Today, I was also thinking of Mary in the house of John in Ephesus. Within months of the Ascension, persecution broke out against the Christians. At the latest, in about 44, when James was martyred, John would have taken Mary out of the way of danger. He could have moved to Ephesus as early as the summer or autumn of 33, or in 34, after the death of Stephen.
Mary would have had to leave all her relatives and friends, her things, her house.
She would have been asked to show her love by becoming detached from all the places and things which reminded her of Jesus, her Son, when He walked on this earth.
I did return to where I am staying with some artwork I had given my mother--framed prints over 140 years old, of famous fairy tales from Bohemia and Moravia---things passed down and kept Grandma's attic until she gave them to me, and I had them framed long ago. She wanted me to take these.
I do not want to accumulate things, but as my mother wanted me to take these back, I did so. But, my heritage is larger, more universal than that of my Bohemian, Moravian, and Luxembourg ancestors. My real "stuff" comes from my Catholic heritage, and that is what I share on this blog.
God is in charge of my memory, my understanding, my will.
He is the Master and Bridegroom of the little house which is my soul and my body.
Let me end with the famous prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. Thou hast given all to me. To Thee, O lord, I return it. All is Thine, dispose of it wholly according to Thy will. Give me Thy love and thy grace, for this is sufficient for me.
I never want to have an attic full of things, nor a memory stuffed with so much that God cannot enter in. His love and His grace are enough for me.