Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday's Reflection: Dumpster in the Driveway

We are now at the "Dumpster in the Driveway" stage at my father's house. For weeks we have been emptying closets and cupboards and sorting and piling and delivering load after load to Goodwill and the Women's Assistance League resale shop, which my sister manages as a volunteer. We have listed and sold many pieces of furniture on Craigslist (Anyone want a pristine dining room set or couch?) We have waded through boxes of newspaper clippings and photographs--the stuff of a lifetime--and stacks of cupless saucers and decorations for every holiday of the year. On and on and on.

And now it is dumpster time.

Unknown to all of us, underneath the carpet in every room of the house, except the kitchen and bathrooms, there are untouched hardwood floors. My parents bought the house new in 1965, and before we moved in, had the whole house carpeted. That was the style then. Over the years the carpet has been replaced, and the floors were protected in their original state--just what buyers today want.

Thus, the dumpster, which is now loaded with old carpet, along with bags and boxes of miscellaneous items I would rather not recount or remember. For years my brother has joked that when the time came, he would "just get a dumpster." Well, as he and the rest of us have done the dirty work, it's not so funny or easy!

A Spiritual Dumpster
With each trip to that dumpster in the driveway, the house has seemed lighter, and it has occurred to me how amazing it would be if we could rid ourselves of old, unhealthy patterns, hurts and regrets by tossing them into the dumpster.  How much lighter I would feel and be if I tossed the worries and cares and preoccupations into my own personal dumpster. 

I envision filling my own personal dumpster with those hurts and fears, big and small. I know it takes many trips back and forth and lots of digging and letting go before what is no longer needed or usable can be hauled away. As I meditate and pray and reflect, intentionally tossing aside all that prevents me from being the person I was created to be, the harder it is to recall specifically what's buried in those piles. It no longer matters. The hard and dirty and exhausting work will have been done. Work worth doing.

Another Image of Letting Go
Years ago at a retreat I led a woman provided the group with her image for releasing the thoughts and burdens along with the minor irritations, that plagued her from time to time. She imagined herself unplugging, pulling a cord from a socket, cutting off the power source from what was draining her energy. She acknowledged that sometimes the unplugged thought, worry, or  expectation --the buzzing in her ears-- replugged itself into the source, and she would need to jerk it out again. Eventually, however, there simply wasn't enough wattage to keep the old thought alive. 

Along the way, of course, there are light moments, including picnics in the living room where no one was ever allowed to eat. In fact, we only gathered in there as a family a couple times a year--Christmas Day and Easter and the occasional graduation or wedding party. We have laughed and told lots of stories and then we have resumed the work of filling the dumpster.

An Invitation
What needs to go into the dumpster in your driveway or what needs to lose power in your life? Close your eyes and imagine yourself throwing whatever needs to be forgotten or resolved into a dumpster or envision yourself pulling the plug on whatever prevents you from moving forward. You can do it. 

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