‘Decluttering’ for Lent
It’s Lent in the world of Christendom. The word “Lent” means “springtime,” which in turn is a very yearned for, upbeat season, so let’s see if we can transform this usually morose 40 days of beating up on ourselves into a time of liberation! I do not guarantee that this will be pain free, any more than planting a garden is, but I do promise a renewed sense of freedom, of lightness, of light! Go ahead and repent if you want, or join me in viewing Lent as an opportunity for “decluttering” the soul.
As a laboratory for this, I offer the following public self-examination of my own consciousness.
As you know, we are moving to Philadelphia once the house sells. So, what to take and what to leave behind? Books have always been a constant in my life. I love to read with all the adventure that goes with it: exploring worlds unknown and feeling that expansion or just enjoying a good story and noticing the effect it has on my soul.
All this untarnished joy remained unchallenged until midlife, when I began exploring the Enneagram of Personality. If you ever start feeling too smug, just try facing the Enneagram. It’s like a harpoon to the ego. It’s also awe-inspiring, eye-opening and a great booster, once you get over the shock.
I discovered that I am an Enneagram Five. This chap is known by many names, e.g., “The Thinker” or “The Observer.” All the types have an upside, because they each have something to offer the world. In the case of the Five, it’s knowledge to share. So far, so good.
Then, though, the Enneagram lowers the boom. Why does the Five pursue knowledge with such a passion? It’s because, as a child, he or she felt powerless. An emotionally absent parent, or an overly clinging one, led the child to a sense of isolation, which led him into his head as a power base. The power of acquiring knowledge led to a sense of self-worth and the all-important autonomy so necessary in adolescence.
If all this goes unnoticed by the Five, it can lead to a maladjusted personality (no comments please!). If, however, it enters self-awareness, it becomes a tool of liberation. For example, with apologies to our esteemed Kendra, owner of our local bookstore, it used to be that I could not walk past a book shop without going in. Once in, I could not leave without buying one or more books, which in turn often went unread. Why? Because the simple fact of having them was like a security blanket. Their presence made me feel good! Now I can come and go with aplomb!
All this brings us to the issue of whether or not to take my library with me to Philadelphia. Now, mind you, I already gave away half my supply to the library’s annual fundraiser. This has left the closet shelves empty of books, but I still see my free-standing shelves staring at me. They house the books I chose not to part with for the fundraiser.
Here is where discernment of spirits comes in. My love of books is largely good, but also kind of a defense mechanism. Where do I draw the line? I’ll have to let you know after we move!
Bill O’Brien is a consciousness coach and shamanic practitioner. He and his wife Linda have lived in Shepherdstown since 2005. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.