Take Only What You Need

Recently I had a beautiful conversation with a colleague. Her mother had passed away, and she faced the overwhelming task of cleaning out her home. Weeks passed as she faced into the grief she knew this would bring and wrestled with the best way to approach the work.

By a stroke of providence, she connected with a woman who ran an estate sales company. In conversation with her, the woman said to her, “Go through the house and take only what you want. Take all the time you need. Then leave the rest to us. We will take care of it.” 

As my colleague reflected on that moment, she said, “Her saying those words to me was the most wonderful act of grace. I felt such relief. It allowed me to grieve my mother without the burden of the rest.” 

As I listened to her story, I thought about so many of us working in companies and faith communities that are forever changed by the pandemic. So much of our life wasn’t working. Companies were forcing too many of us into grey cubicles with mindless work. Our economies were consuming our planet. Faith communities were facing unsustainable financial realities. We were killing ourselves with over-scheduled lives. 

It’s as if this global disruption is saying to us, “It’s time for your old life to die and a new life to be born. Take a moment and look around. Take with you only what you really want and think you will need. Leave everything else. From dust, to dust. All will be cared for.” 

If you are a leader worried about how to help people through this time, perhaps offer a word about the peace that comes with letting go, taking only what you need. The pattern of life has always been life, death and life again. We will carry on, lighter and less burdened for the journey ahead. We will thrive. 

If you are a leader in a faith community, perhaps consider that this is the “Great Rummage Sale” that our beloved Phyllis Tickle talked about so often. Your work is to let go of the trappings of the institutions that will not serve the movement going forward. Whatever you don’t want or need, leave behind. This is no time for nostalgia. Our world needs new experiences of Sacred awakening. Bring from our traditions only that which serves to draw us into deeper connection to God. 

Life is, in the end, about learning when to hold on and when to let go. 

We are in this together,


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