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Tossing Junk & Restoring the Soul

It’s true… it’s always something. There are car issues and kid issues, health problems and work problems. There are crises to deal with, dogs who roll in disgusting smelling stuff, cats who throw up in your shoes, and air conditioners that go out on the hottest days. Sometimes loved ones die, we lose our job, or our computer crashes. It's always something.

When challenges in life arise we marshal our resources, and as independently minded people, we do our best to handle everything ourselves. If we absolutely have to, we'll lean on friends, family, coworkers and others who understand our struggles.

Sometimes there are so many “somethings” that we just get worn down, exhausted, wrung out and dried up. And, if we haven’t done so up to this point, we’re now hoping and praying for divine intervention. Perhaps this is what is going on in Psalm 130 when the psalmist writes (my paraphrase), “Out of the depths, O Yahweh, I cry to you! Please hear me! I’m waiting and waiting through this very long night for dawn to break. But I trust in your love and ability to help me.”

This is clearly a cry for spiritual help. Theologian John Shea, in his book Eating with the Bridegroom, invites us to question what exactly spiritual help looks like. Are we really expecting angels or a divine sighting? Probably not. Are we willing to settle for a behind-the-scenes manipulation of events by the Great Puppeteer, even if we don’t believe in a God who pulls the strings in everyone’s life…sure, we're good with that. Shea says that “as long as we feel helpless in the face of “it’s always something,” we will seek greater powers to get things done.”

But, Shea suggests, what if spiritual help isn't about directly pulling strings to fix a problem. What if spiritual help is about restoring our souls? What if it is about reconnecting us to our foundation so that we have the strength and energy for life and whatever it throws at us?

It seems to me that, if this is so (and it sounds pretty reasonable to me), it requires an adjustment in consciousness. It requires turning our mind from all the worries and concerns or DOING things, to the inner space from which we are ABLE to do things. 

Then, when consciousness does adjust to the spiritual, it changes the way we see and approach the challenges in our lives. Shea shares this story (I've made up Shelly's name and shortened it a bit):

Shelly’s mother had a stroke and required a long period of rehabilitation. It was clear she was going to have to stay with Shelly for a while. Shelly was ok with it, it seemed like a chance to pay her mother back for all those years she herself had been cared for. And there were things Shelly was going to help her clear up, like the way she was thinking. Shelly thought to herself, she’d do a good job and they’d all feel good about it in the end.

The challenge? Shelly and her mother fought like only a mother and daughter can. And her mother was a great fighter, from the Old School of somehow loving it and being very good at it and getting a kind of ecstatic look in your eye when you’re really into it. Perhaps an exaggeration, but that was how Shelly felt and it drove her crazy. Shelly hated conflict and arguing.

But it got bad. One day they had a huge blow up over a hard-boiled egg. The reality was that they’d both gotten worn out, irritable, and frustrated. Boom!  Suddenly they were in the middle of a fight about how things were going and why her stay had gotten difficult and how everyone had gotten more and more irritable and short-tempered

In the middle of it, Shelly’s mom stopped short and said, “Why are you doing all this for me anyway?” It sort of hit Shelly and she stared to list all the reasons: she was afraid for her; she wanted to get her well; she felt maybe she’d ignored her when she was younger; she needed to show her she was strong; she needed to get her ready for going home alone; old age; and so on and so on.

“Junk” her mother said when she was done.

“Junk?” Shelled yelled.

“Yes, junk,” her mother said again, but a little more quietly. “You don’t have to have all those reasons. We love each other. That’s enough.”

And it was truth. Suddenly it became clear to her and Shelly felt better. “you’re right. You’re really right. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” her mom said. “Junk is fine. It’s what you don’t need anymore. I love you.”

It was a wonderful moment and the fight stopped. Everything after that was just, well, easier – less pressure, less trying, less pushing, happening more by itself.

We toss the junk and our soul begins to be restored from within.

There will always be an "it's always something" in our lives, but when we let go of the junk and the stories we tell ourselves, we can begin to reconnect to the deep spiritual well of love and strength within us.Then we will find ourselves, not magically rid of that challenge, but in a place where it is “easier – less pressure, less trying, less pushing, happening more by itself.”

Love & Light!