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I am packing this week for the big move from one city to another. We all know it – packing is a huge pain. No matter how hard you try to be organized and labeled – there are always boxes full of random stuff that doesn’t go with anything else. The bags of wine corks from important events, the drawer full of batteries that you are pretty sure might still work, and the occasional glitter pen that you find under the bed all get thrown in one big box that will be sorted out at the other end of the move.
But there is an upside to packing and moving and it’s this: it’s a great chance to purge.
Packing and moving are chances to let go – not just of the capitalistic excess you have accumulated while you lived in a certain place, but also of all of the junk memories that plague us when we are faced with them daily.
It’s been an odd experience. I’m not usually a person of spontaneous prayer. I love Hebrew. I love my prayer book. I have trouble finding the words to talk to God, so having something already written is incredibly helpful. Pre-written prayer isn’t the end, but it is a door into a conversation. But as I am packing and preparing to move, I have found myself talking to God a lot. Not big in-depth conversations. Little ones. Thanks for this memory. Thanks for helping me through this. Packing has become a litany of gratitude for the time I have spent here. It’s also been a chance to say goodbye to the baggage I have carried these three years. Memories of arguments and breakups, of fires in the kitchen, of wounds and guilt – God and I have been hashing these out too.
I’m sure that packing and purging aren’t the end to my baggage. Nothing is ever that simple. But they have been a way to let go of guilt and pain I didn’t even know that I was carrying around. Something about the physicality of the work has allowed a spiritual place to open up that I wasn’t even aware of.
I wonder if we would be spiritually healthier if we could simulate this experience, if once a year we cleaned and purged. Without actually moving, could we remove the excess memories that live in our homes with us? Could the physicality of a spring clean be a doorway into spiritual openness if we were intentional about it?
Could it at least get us through something we all hate to do in a way that is a little less painful?