Saturday, 2 January 2016

Decluttering the Soul

New Year is a time for resolutions - and often, if we are honest, for wondering how long they will be kept.  It can be a time for, both literally and metaphorically, clearing things out.  Daniel Munoz, in "Transformed by the Beloved" which reflects on St. John of the Cross's Dark Night of the Soul, refers to John's giving attention to what we might call decluttering the soul - "We need to take time to identify and understand all the clutter in our souls."  

What are the things that really matter to us?  What are the things that drive us?  Where are our priorities?  Attachment to things or relationships can be a barrier to spiritual growth, and so "John invites us constantly to watch our motivations and our relationships to all that is around us as we engage in the process of inner decluttering."

One example that is quoted in the book is of the Israelites leaving Egypt.  Moses led them out of Egypt away from slavery so that they could go to the promised land; but for quite some time the people looked back to the things they missed about Egypt.  They had not really moved on.  "Someone once said that it was easy for God to get the Israelites out of Egypt but much harder to get Egypt out of the Israelites."

One of the ways in which I think this translates into current church life is when we face questions around what God is calling us to do.  We can see new challenges, though sometimes we struggle as we can't see where we will find the resources to meet them - but one of the answers is possibly in considering what we should be giving up.  We are much better at taking things on than we are at giving them up.  Sometimes we need to look and see where God is calling us on and leave behind something (that very likely was once somebody's great idea, but that has now had its day.)

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