Friday, March 06, 2009

the bare essentials

Prompted by yesterday's post at Abbey of the Arts I found myself pondering these words: what does it look like to strip down and surrender the unessential? What is essential? A modicum of food – water to keep me hydrated – clothing to cover my back – certainly not the closet full of items that threatens to explode into my bedroom – shoes strewn around the perimeter. I sit amid pillows, books, candles, computer, and music.

What do I really need? What is essential? The answer comes and it is this: Space and time with God. For me that includes a pen and paper to capture my thoughts. What if I let go of even that desire (to capture my thoughts)? Do I not always have them with me?

What is essential in this life? I keep thinking of the tools – the things – that help me find – meet – uncover my listening ears to experience God. I think of a monk’s quarters. Simple and sparse. A robe; sandals; a notebook and pen. Perhaps a candle to light the dark. The barest of meals served on a single tin tray and cup. If the monk is really lucky, there will be a window that overlooks the garden. With that window, the abundance expands exponentially with a view into the outside world. Yes. God is within and God is in nature - in the eyes of others - in the touch of communion.

What is essential? Must we swallow the elements of communion to be blessed or can we know deep in our being that they are but a symbol and we know what they represent.

Again, what is essential? The question frightens me a little and reminds me of my early days with my not-quite-yet husband when I feared he would announce we were chucking all of our belongings and moving to the mission field. I did not want to let go of my life. I still don’t want to let go of my things, but I feel like I could. I seem to know a bit more of what would be essential for me. I return to the thoughts of a modicum of food and water – some clothing to cover my body – pen and paper – and if I’m really lucky, a window to the outside world. (Even that assumes I have a roof over my head, and, yes, the roof is indeed a luxury.)

So, how will I hold this stripped down image as I go through these days of Lent? What is essential?

Thanks, Christine for the prompt!

photos from Paris 3.08

10 comments:

rdn said...

Thank you for this post. It's good to be reminded that we have waaaay more than we absolutely need in this life, and we're missing some key elements (at least, I am - missing the element of God in my life). However, in this cold and snowy state of MN, I wouldn't call a roof over my head a luxury! Just sayin'.

lucy said...

rdn--glad you liked the post...i get your point about the roof. i'm thinking maybe "blessing" was more the word i was looking for rather than "luxury."

Gabriella Moonlight said...

Lucy, I read you all the time and just don't always have a great comment, but I am always, always amazed by your blog and your words, it's so true, what do we really need, and what is essential...? You have as always made me stop and thank and I am so grateful to you! Thank you!

Laure said...

lucy,

to ask the question is to invite great possibility. what a gorgeous place (i think) this questioning is.

lucy said...

GM--thank you for your gratitude. just remember, in my humble opinion any comment is considered a great comment :-)

laure--i love how you put that..."to invite great possibility." i certainly hope so!

Tess said...

Great questions, which fit right in with what I'm trying to do this Lent.
I think what is essential is what allows us to live simply and joyously.
What is essential to live is less than that, but I think something of our human warmth and grace is destroyed when we live in abject poverty.
And I will say one other thing: time to 'just be' has become one of the greatest luxuries in our modern life. To me, that is an 'essential' that many of us do without.

lucy said...

tess- i so enjoy your thoughtful pondering and now i find myself wondering about the effects of abject poverty...where does human warmth and grace live when the fight is for survival at the most basic level?

i totally agree with your "one other thing." time to just be is an essential for me. without it, i become lost in the fight for survival myself!

Abbey of the Arts said...

You are most welcome lucy, I am always deeply honored when I can prompt such depth and beauty.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

Travel days have gotten me behind on my reading so I'm doing such catching up on comments BUT I have read your posts, they were just too full for me to dash off an "I like it:)" They deserved more.

I find that the "just being" is a major luxury, one that I've found to be absolutely blissful in this last month. I like the luxury of this computer, although I could manage with a pencil (with eraser) my thoughts do flow well through my fingers, so yes, I'm grateful for the computer that pulls words out of my mind in reaction to your words so beautifully written.

Exclusion from the Eucharist, the Lord's Table, is a hurtful act and I believe that most of our friends who are Catholics might agree with me. BUT you have put it so nicely in your post when you smile and wonder how mankind can possibly exclude any of us from receiving the love and blessing that God gives us through the sacraments.

WOrshiping in our favorite little church in Lahaina, Maui, the priest invites ALL to the Lord's table as it is not our table but the Lord's. I love that blessing when I hear it and I so believe that ALL are welcomed by God.

Also while away I discovered how few things we need to bring with us on a journey - if you don't have something you don't use it and find pretty much you can do without.

Tess mentions "abject poverty"....I believe that living with less or with very little, or whatever we spoiled persons would perceive as living with less, can bring joy and an open space in which God may enter. However, I believe the open space is narrowed by those living in abject poverty, those beaten down with no hope, those who have not chosen their lot - it's not that they can't have hope or joy, it just must be so HARD!!! No one deserves to live in poverty that is not of their choosing.....oh, I could go on and on on this point!

I shouldn't write a post here, but thank you for your words and for inviting me, once more, to just spill out my......I think they're prayers:)

xoxo

lucy said...

C--you embody "depth and beauty", my dear!

SS--you too! thanks for the sharing of prayers and this mini-post. i always love hearing where your thoughts intertwine with my own.

i look forward to visiting your little priest on maui!