While I was at Virginia Seminary there was a colorful hostess of the Guest House whose name – Annie Lee Thornhill Brown – and accent advertised her Alabama roots. She was quite a character and served as a reminder of the real world to which we would return upon graduation. Like many southern eccentrics, Annie Lee used descriptive terms to express her circumstances. She wasn’t just tired, for instance, she was “dragging my rough end.” She didn’t just go through closets and discard older items, she would be “pullin’ and pitchin’”.
Lately there has been a flurry of pullin’ and pitchin’ at our house. We’ve made a big decision in our lives and are moving to another house so that my parents can live with us. We’ve lived in our current home longer than we’ve lived anywhere, the entire 18 years that we have been in Montgomery. Periodically we have thrown things away or taken clothes to various missions but, in the course of those years, we have accumulated a number of things I had forgotten we even owned. Since everything we get rid of means less to move and less to unpack once in the new house, we have been closely examining items, asking if we really need them. Pullin’ and pitchin’ has been the result and it feels pretty good.
We all take things and put them somewhere imagining that one day we might need them. Perhaps we have sentimental attachments to them. Perhaps we’re just a little too lazy to deal with things so we just let them pile up. Closets, drawers, sheds, attics, garages, they all accumulate stuff that once was needed but now really isn’t. And, while it feels good to do some purging, it’s amazing how hard it can be to discard something that has been with us for a long time, even things we forgot we had.
Occasionally in our pullin’ and pitchin’ we have rediscovered some items that really mean something to us. That has been like a little treasure hunt. We’ve found some artwork the kids produced when very young. Some of the things we have found, we have reclaimed as valuables and thought we should have them in a place where we can enjoy them rather than in the bottom of a drawer. And, of course, we have found a lot of things that we just can’t figure out why we’ve kept. They obviously meant something at some point in time but throwing them away has been freeing.
Spiritual wisdom is partly an accumulation of learning. As we mature in our faith, we add more and more to our knowledge of God’s presence in our lives. We pile up experiences and learn from them. What we gain from those experiences helps us trust God more and more as our faith deepens. It’s important to store up lessons that life generously offers us.
Spiritual wisdom also includes some pullin’ and pitchin’. Some of the things we have come to believe about God and the world just aren’t very helpful any longer and need to be thrown away. Maybe they were helpful at one point but now they are little weights we keep carrying around which keep us from seeing the freedom and love that God intends for us to know. We all have some junk in our spiritual drawers and sheds, little fears and anxieties that we’ve really outgrown by now and can let go of. As we sort through things, we may find some grudges we have held toward others, some superstitious attitudes, or some insecurities which hold us back.
We all have things that need releasing in order for us to move forward in our pilgrimages. When Jesus sent out his disciples, he specifically told them not to take a bunch of stuff with them. Moving forward and carrying heavy items don’t go together. Living by faith means letting go of unnecessary attachments and realizing anew that all we really need is our relationship with God.
The key is taking spiritual inventory. It helps to do that regularly and periodically it helps to really dig deep beneath the top layer and look at what’s in the bottom of our drawers. We might find a light little reminder of a great joy that we have forgotten. And we might find some things which will feel so good to throw away. It all serves to bring us closer to God and helps us move, something God is often calling us to do.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
Goodbye to Ashlee Hooper
It saddens us to report that Ashlee Hooper is leaving us as our Director of Children’s Christian Formation. She has given us three and a half wonderful years, helped us grow tremendously, and been such a delight to work with. We will truly grieve her absence but she feels she must spend more time with her teenage boys and their busy schedules. Ashlee will continue to serve in her position through July and we are now beginning the search for our next Director. Please keep Ashlee and her family, and our Children’s Ministry, in your prayers. If you wish to send Ashlee an email you may do so at email@example.com.
Hello to Caitlin Gilliam
Having previously announced Worth Stuart’s call to join the Diocesan Staff and his departure from our staff on July 31 as our Director of Youth Ministries, we are now pleased to announce the hiring of our next Youth Minister, Caitlin Gilliam. Caitlin is a life-long Episcopalian, grew up outside Nashville, is a 2010 graduate of the University of the South – Sewanee, and has, for the last three years, been the Youth Minister at Holy Trinity in Auburn. Caitlin will join our staff on August 1. If you wish to welcome her by email, her address is firstname.lastname@example.org.