Monday, January 28, 2013

The Delight of Using Things Up

Sometimes I need to discipline myself to not hang on my computer, but oddly enough right now, due to household circumstances, it's one of those moments where sitting at the computer is one of my only options at the moment. So I wanted to pull out this thought I've been mulling over lately, which is about a certain spiritual fruit.

I am realizing that even I know about my own spiritual journey in mere bits and pieces. I get a piece here, and piece there, and often these don't seem to make any sense in the moment. It is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle though, because then something else will come along that fits with this bit and that bit, and eventually a picture takes shape. Instead of seeing it as frustrating (to not have one certain piece at any given time that I want, in order to see better what I'm looking at), I've come to accept this as fun. It means that every day there is something to discover, and I never know just want is around the next corner.

I read yesterday (somewhere in the Interior Castle) that the only proof of real prayer is fruit in real life. I have noticed something within the last several weeks that is a definite change for me, and I think this counts as real fruit. I am no longer afraid to use things up. In fact, I rather delight in using things up.

What is that supposed to mean? I've long had a tendency to get towards the end of something, like a food product, and just not use that last bit. Like the last parsley in the bag, the last green tea in the container, the last ounce of soy sauce. The parsley would go off, and eventually I'd throw it out, but the non-perishables would just sit there for months or maybe even years.

I even had a strange relationship with the ends of songs that I would write. If it was a song I just wrote for my own purposes (which was almost all of the time before I did Unleashed) I often would leave an  unpolished ending, and just think to myself "and then it ends, somehow."

But now I have a strong and happy sense that the things that I have at my disposal are to be used to their utmost. Perhaps I subconsciously thought in the past that it was too sad to come to the end of that parsley or that green tea, because when it was gone, I would no longer have its goodness. But the truth of the matter was that I didn't have its goodness when it sat in my fridge forever, either. I had its potential goodness, but nothing in actuality.

My mind keeps going back to this woman I called my "material heretic" friend. This was a long time ago; she had some significant issues with the Church, and at the time I didn't get it that she was on a mission to infect me with the same issues. But one of the more valuable things she told me, after she drove me several miles to a grocery store to get stamps, which I ended up not buying because I didn't want to use two first-class stamps instead of an airmail stamp and waste the extra few pennies, was that atheists do things like hold on to pennies.

There is something of a lack of faith inherent in the unwillingness to go all out, to use up everything, to enjoy something until it is gone, and when it is gone to rejoice in how good it was. I think this is what one might call an expectant faith. This is a faith that knows all blessings, even little ones like fresh parsley, are gifts from God. There are always more. Even if they are not more of the same type, and even if from all outward appearances blessings fail, God knows how to bring good into my life. He has always done it in the past, so why should I let the end of something make me fear that God will change. "Although the fig tree shall not blossom and there be no fruit on the vine; though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food; though the flock should be torn from the fold and there be no cattle in the stall, yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in my God." (Hab. 3:17-18)

As I type this, I realize this is about far more than parsley, and I recognize that this is not springing up out of my willpower or my decision to "think positively."

But this is one of those things that I find present in my life. I could say I don't even know where it came from, but I do. It came from God.

And it is funny how some of God's choicest graces can make a tear come to my eye and cause the thought to run through my head, "I'm not sure I want this...."

But I know that's just because I can't see how it connects to everything else, just yet.

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