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We’re moving (at some point). Not sure when or exactly where, but we are definitely in new life mode– that is, sowing the seeds for a new ‘field’ or future.

My mom’s priest emails his homilies out most weeks. They are almost always just precious. They’re short– ah, the beauty of a really awesome Episcopalian priest’s homily! True thoughtful meaning,  no time wasted!

He’s an undiscovered jewel of humility, study, kindness put straight into serious good works large and small, and comfort with human fears and pettiness– including making fun of his own (this attitude is kind of typical of the few priests I’ve known and may explain my willingness to be so, er, human, so publicly).

And he doesn’t hold back his sweet words–  he sends ’em out ahead of time to whoever wants ’em instead of trying to entice folks to actually show up to hear what he’s going to say this time. He doesn’t play games– and has the small but devoted attendance and impoverished church pocketbook to show for it I guess. But it’s important to be a straight shooter.

Today he sent out the Anglican history of Rogation Day. I really liked it.

I had a yard sale yesterday, spent HOURS on it and it wasn’t even enough time, and of course after paying for ads in the paper I about broke even and made about ten cents an hour.

And that is *not* counting the money I had to give my child to convince her to get rid of a few token extra toys– some for a friend whose house flooded, and a very few just to put in the trash (where a lot more of them really need to go!!!).

Yesterday was a day of people doing sweet things for me. One BFF came over and watched the stuff for me while I ran upstairs and pulled from the attic a bunch of clothes I’ve been hoarding, some for 20 years, out to go through in hopes I could bring myself to weed those too. We went through the grownup clothes, and, well, I found about six things I can definitively say I am glad to throw away.

My other clothes from the 80’s and 90’s? No way. Keeping. Can’t let go. Heck, we’re going to a place where we’ll actually need wool sweaters. And the baby clothes? I think I opened one rubbermaid tub– couldn’t even reach in and look at the stuff!– before I turned away. I can’t do this!

I have the stuff on mothballs and lots off ’em for which I take serious ribbing from the BFFs. But here’s the point of those mothballs. I am in it for the long haul, I tell you. If someone needs a sweater, if a baby needs clothes 40 years from now, I got ’em!

Last night as I brought in the yardsale clothes and put them in the ‘yard sale closet’ I thought, what am I *even* (as Napoleon Dynamite would say) doing? Why am I bringing these back in the house? Why aren’t they going straight to the Mission Thrift down the road from my workplace– a huge symbolic gesture to accompany my last 8 days at my current job?

What is the best use of my time? Spending hours making a few bucks here and there, organizing and storing this crap, a breeding ground for bugs, dustmites, and psychological burden? Getting my house completely cleared out to the essentials (and the spiritual fortitude it takes to actually let go)?

Some things I do that take more time have payoffs that make them worth it. When I cook a vegan meal or make pancakes or muffins or bake a cake, the appetizing (usually!) food, the removal of additives and other yuckies that will aggravate autoimmune disorders or cancer genes or heart disease down the road, and the nutrition are their own reward. With vegan cooking we also get a side of saving the earth– meat agriculture is harder on our environment than our cars.

When I hang clothes on the line (convert your clothes dryer to solar power for two bucks!) we save about 50 cents and the sun bleaches out stains. We also get another side of saving the earth, since reducing consumption is one of the keys to moving away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

So. Rogation Day (Welcome to workingmommykimworld, where a million things are always going on at the same time).

I think Father Richard’s sermon is  my answer. I proceed to shorten and bastardize it greatly for the sake of my point.

Rogation Day like most Christian holidays was imposed upon a pagan/druid sacred day and ritual.  Joseph of Arimathea was no fool– he didn’t reinvent the wheel. When in Rome, that is Glastonbury…

Wealthy ‘counselor’ and Jew, maternal uncle Joseph of Arimathaea, supposedly a disciple in secret, requests Christ’s body after the crucifixion so that it may be honorably buried in accordance with Jewish custom. Then he has to hightail it so he hits the friendly godless shores of the British Isles (has much changed?) where they don’t like to write stuff down (no paper trail) but preferred to tell stories to keep the spirit alive.

H’m. As a librarian and student of indigenous culture and given my belief in the importance of human connection, this in many contexts sounds good to me. Though now that the written word is so fluid… it has a spirit of its own, it’s not such a threat as it must have been then.

But anyhoo.

The pagan feast of Rogation involved cleansing the fields of demons with switches, or praying for protection from mold, or walking the boundaries of the parish, depending on where and when you were.

In Britain they ‘beat the bounds’ with switches and then burned the switches (with their demons, presumably). The practice was outlawed in 1547 but in a strange twist Queen Elizabeth I re instituted it but ordered that the boundaries of the parish be walked. What was she thinking? That’s a sincere question.

Father Richard invites the congregation to a symbolic beating of the bounds, including burning the switches in a cookout (ya gots to have food if you’re Episcopalian) after the service.  He says, in part– why are we doing this?  Because it’s fun, because it’s history, because it’s our history, and because it is important to bless our church yard. The church yard is consecrated ground, and a precious part of our ministry. People rest and read in the church yard. Children play in it. It holds the ashes of our beloved dead.
Our homes and yards are a precious part of our daily ministry, even if we don’t call it that or subscribe to a codified system of beliefs from an organized religion or other source — for example. Flylady says to simply bless the world with your stuff, don’t hold on to it and don’t yard sale it, have courage to let it go and make room for more blessings to come back your way.

And home staging wisdom is that you must get rid of all your clutter to show your home.

We all make our houses and yards as comfortable as we can for our families, in accordance with our values, schedules, abilities, aesthetics, budgets, and our families’ needs.

When I was growing up my family’s homes were sometimes almost formal and sometimes clean but centered not around neatness but around people and activities– grandchildren. Visitors. Cocktails. Work space for woodworking or sewing or home office or home business. The almost too big supper table right in the middle of the kitchen.

No matter who or where they were, my grownups were diligent in making their homes presentable and comfortable, and tended their yards and gardens– whether a small suburban lawn or a long acre in West Virginia– with passion and devotion.

Now, my grandmas stayed home, my mother in law stayed home, my sister in law Kim seems to be able to keep her house lovely even though she works– she doesn’t have any little ones yet, but I suspect that if as a working lady she can find time for her arts and her home, she’ll still manage it as a parent. That’s just who she is.

My parents had slave labor (myself and my brother) to help. I haven’t got to those points yet– not staying home, not slave labor– and maybe never will, so while I and my husband don’t lack passion for or devotion to home and garden, I don’t know when or if we’ll ever get to their level of home.

But I take the thought processes and ministry and blessing of everyday housework, home hearth and garden, seriously as often as I can given how freaking tired I usually am after a day or week of work. Cooking and cleaning and yardwork are three of my favorite things, and I love to do them for my family and I love to invite people over. This is the first time I’ve had a house worth inviting folks to in many years, and my first own house ever.
So… back to my original question. Where should all those  yard sale clothes go? And what’s the best use of my time? What do I do? I know I need to dump the stuff. Holding on to it is indicative of a mindset  holding me, holding us, back, spiritually and financially and geographically.  But can I really do it?

Like Father Richard I’m not much worried about demons. At least not literally. But extra crap creates an inviting place for dust, molds and bugs to live and grow. It makes it harder to keep the house neat, adds a huge psychological burden, makes the house less attractive, both in terms of how it looks and how it feels at a gut or energy level, to potential renters or buyers. It makes us a lot less nimble when it’s time to move into what I am almost sure will be a *much* smaller house –but it will be in a place close to heavenly in many ways, which is why we’re willing to make the leap.

And I hear tell it’s not legal to set fires within these here city limits.  So setting fire to it, while it would be a gorgeous spiritual gesture (and I still have BFF’s flamethrower! forgot to give it back!), probably isn’t an option.

So. Absent processions and switches and fires, what do I do?

Rogation day. Cleansing the fields. Walking the borders of my little parish ministry. Praying for protection from mold (which loves to accumulate in extra stuff!).


if you want your wife [significant other] to wish [him-]herself home again, unfettered by matrimonial [cohabiting, relationship] claims, you just stay in bed and let her [him] get up in a cold room, go through several cold rooms to a cold kitchen: find no wood or kindling , and have to go to the back yard and bring it in all soaking wet, and try to cook…

Page 26, “1902-1911: Rafters of the Home/ Woman’s [Partner’s] Work” in Times Down Home: 75 Years with Progressive Farmer edited by Mary Elizabeth Johnson, published 1978 by Oxmoor House in Birmingham.

What a treasure! I can’t resist it. I’m a nut for stuff like this. This is a wonderful Book.

I had to insert words like “significant other” and “him” and “partner” in brackets because families are changing, stressed by pressures that are different and yet the same. They need to be supported, from within and from without, in totally new ways we (okay I) haven’t quite gotten right yet.

And these days, the imbalance of care and interest in one’s mate’s day and work can definitely go both ways– can even be hurtful and isolating for one spouse or partner in some areas and hurtful and isolating for the other partner or spouse in others.

MEJ (now MEJ Huff) will be at my library on Saturday 9th May along with many other wonderful local authors. She has done some amazing, beautiful more recent books documenting quilts as well– quilts by ordinary folk, like the Gee’s Bend ladies, not MOMA or RISD textile artists.

I can’t wait! The job part of my job is sometimes absolutely AWESOME.

(And no, this is not the blog post I am so proud of. This is a quick, thought of the moment post– the one I’m proud of is on If you’re an Obama fan or liberal or activist or general stirrer upper, take a look at it, if not, don’t. Please. I want you to continue to be my friend.)

Anyway– isn’t it weird the morbid thoughts you have when you’re a mom, not to mention a stressed out one with a, er, creative turn of mind?

Life is short. I’ve been thinking a long time about how important it is to do what matters most each day– some looking to the future, some time spent on habits today that will make me happier and healthy both today and in the future (exercise, spirituality, cleaning or creative work) some documenting of the precious memories of the past, but without fail making sure I also just stop and spend some moments right here right now.

I might be sitting quietly with my little girl, admiring the million and one things about her that, if I just stop and pay attention, never fail to remind me that the Universe is a good place– from quiet things like her tiny freckles on her snub nose and her thick eyelashes, to big things like her insane sense of humor (my fault, I taught her farts were funny when she was twoish, now she’s five, she makes fart jokes all the time, it’s not that funny any more to anyone but her).  I might be just holding my husband’s hand in silence for five minutes, just nothing but being there. I might be deeply absorbed in just enjoying the feel of my body and senses engaged in a long walk or yoga or 30 min of Shimmy, my favorite exercise class, or really engaged in helping a child with homework at the library.

So I’ve been trying to pack up my fall holiday through Christmas stuff in some logical fashion since Epiphany. Half of it is still lying all over my room — crafts, wrapping stuff, items hoarded for next year. My husband has been in cleaning mode for a few weeks and finally got pissed off stuck the lids on the boxes before I’d finished packing and cataloging, and put the boxes which took up our entire dining room on into the attic without asking me.

He said he figured it had been long enough. I said well, it hurts my feelings to think you think I took too long (even though I know I did take too long, because I am so freakin’ detail oriented I just sink, every time) but it makes me feel good to re-frame that into, I took them on upstairs and threw them into the attic because I didn’ t want you to have to worry about them any more. He smiled and seemed to take note — she didn’t take too long. I just didn’t want her to have to worry about it any more.

So I’m doing the last of the packing up and cataloging today. And I’ve thought this several times.  I have always thought that the Law of Attraction is true– you think happy thoughts, expect good things, those good things come. You worry, you attract just what you’re worried about.

Having talked with my mother through the ordeal of my grandmother’s stroke and very gradual recovery and watched Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God– and being the agnostic/new age/eastern/healing school/hardcore former Southern Baptist that I am… I have come to believe that life is just random. No justice. Just– sometimes you are blessed beyond belief, sometimes you get struck down.

There may be a plan for all of this. Even my healing school teacher says hindsight always shows that what you thought was hard at the time ended up being a precious growth experience.  But it’s still random, as far as our understanding goes.

So as I pack each little hoarded item– gifts and ornaments bought half price at Walmart after Christmas, gifts from friends that will be wonderful to decorate/cheer the house up next year, the world’s most expensive origami cranes (paper from Pottery Barn, probably two bucks a crane and incredibly difficult to fold), craft books… I am so excited. As long as it has taken me to get them organized cataloged labeled (including ‘open on’ date) I can’t wait til next year to pull all this out.

So please Lord. I know there’s either a plan I don’t know about whereby everything turns out just as it should, even when it’s not as we think it should be or want it to be, or that it’s completely random and we really can’t change destiny– not because it’s set in stone but because it is just– randome. We cannot divine when these things might occur.

So I make lots of requests, all the time. And I’m not always as grateful as I should be. but I do ask, in Jesus name, for another Christmas with loved ones. I pray for a Christmas full of at least similar gratitude, joy and fun, and more. I claim it, darn it, just like that chaplain praying over my poor Grammy critically injured by that damn stroke– a holiday season that blesses me and every single person I know and don’t know from the crown of their head to the soles of their feet.

I’d like a similar family configuration, preferably with my Grammy at some considerable level of recovery and quality of life, but at the very least my spouse and children and parents and dearest friends, preferably with a great deal less worry than I was experiencing last year the weeks before Christmas when she was struck down.

Please let me open these boxes next October or so and see the season through with joy and hope and comfort for me, my family, and everyone we know and don’t know.


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