So this year for spring I am doing some extra cleaning of the closets, gardens, clothes, furniture and garages because I have put my house up on the market for sale. No, I am not leaving the Mission Office, yet! I teased my realtor (who by the way is my uncle) that I hope he can help me celebrate my birthday later this month by signing papers for the new homeowner. What a great 26th birthday present for me don’t you think?
Seriously though, even though I am a bit saddened by this move, it is time for a literal change of scenery and space. My house is too large for my “growing up” family. I most definitely am not getting any younger to do all the maintenance and, unfortunately, the snow shoveling if we have another winter like this past one.
I have also come to realize that though this house is an excellent place for family and friends to gather, host delegations and meetings, entertain for sleepovers and graduation parties, it just has become too big for me, for my life and for my way of living in this world.
Though nothing is cluttered within the walls of my home, I am feeling a bit like “me” is a bit cluttered. As I am sorting through pictures, dishes, shoes and all the other things that have accumulated over the years, I am understanding more and more my need for simplicity and peace.
Though I have never been an extravagant or careless spender, I admit I have things that I probably didn’t ever need and most definitely don’t need now. These “things” and the “bigness” of my home have probably contributed in some way to my feelings of being cluttered or overwhelmed in a world where I am trying to live humbly, simply and thoughtfully.
As we look for new and smaller places to call home, I have imagined what it would be like to only have a grass and mud hut like I lived in while in Kenya as a student. I have also imagined what it would be like to only have a wood stove for heat and cooking similar to the cabin I lived in while in Montana fighting forest fires a few years back. Could I go back to this level of simplicity? Probably not, at least not in the physical sense.
So for the time being, the work and process of this move continues in the free moments I might have in the evenings and weekends. The selling of things that I do not want to bring with me to our new home, the giving away of family heirlooms to my children, the donating of gently used and loved items to Treasure Chest. The packing up of what remains of my current life are all very cathartic and rewarding, very freeing and peaceful in so many ways.
This move is allowing space to be opened up in my physical world but most importantly in my soul and heart as well. When I get my new address I will send you a note to please come visit!
Elizabeth Neville is director of the St. Cloud Mission Office.