The wish to purge my life of anything unused seems to have grown. In fact, the older I get the stronger the desire. With a fresh new season finally here, so is my amped version of “spring cleaning.” Some might already call me a sort of minimalist. I dislike untidiness. I have but a few boxes of keepsakes. Mostly, I don’t like to hang onto things – unless they’re books – and I don’t care for storage. Yet I could stand to give away more: items that swallow up space and weigh a person down. I’m fond of space. Minimalism is not completely what I’m living, but it’s something I fancy.
These days I find I’m reflecting much about certain friends from way back when, a painter and a musician, each successful in their chosen field, who had married and chose an uncluttered life. Instead of getting swept up in accessible opulence they held simplicity in high esteem. I truly valued visits and dinners at their place, not only for their exuberant friendship but for their lifestyle that left an impression on me.
With unencumbered style, these friends of mine enjoyed a unique yet modest home, along with a small selection of fine things, each item carefully chosen and having its proper place. Everything had a purpose and if something lost its purpose they got rid of it. Even their studios accommodating artwork and instruments reflected organization and tidiness. I suppose the only lavishness rested in the privacy they held behind a tree-lined buffer. For other than a few rows of fruit trees, a path through the forest, and a small yet lush vegetable garden, the spread of acreage was untamed, tucked away from the public, and magnificent.
My mind churns today as I think about them, my minimalist friends. I should have followed their example a little more closely over the years. But, if I can start at one little corner and work my way out, perhaps I can achieve what’s true to my inner nature. The prime notion here is that bigger isn't better and accumulation of “stuff” isn't all that important. People are. Relationships, events, making memories…taking pleasure in the moment, in the satisfaction of just existing. Spring has arrived. Enjoy the simplicity.
A dog barked at my door one day. I poked my head out to see to the commotion. Compassion struck my heart. One glance into the creature’s dark, fearful eyes conveyed the kind of life it must have had. Starving, undernourished, scrapping for its next morsel. Its mangy pelt never saw a bath, brush, kind touch, or even a pat. Goaded by unfriendly neighbors, shooed away from passersby, and never accepted into a pack, it appeared lonely and untrusting. It didn’t help that it had only three legs. What terrible accident took the limb? How did it survive with no apparent care or concern reflected in its environment?
The creature snapped at me when I tried to handle it with utmost care. I desired to gain this canine’s confidence, to feed it, nurture it, show the dog that goodness subsisted in the world and kindness came through a courteous soul once in awhile.
When someone moves into your life for an unknown reason and the compassion you feel over his/her hardship propels you to befriend, feed. Take care not to get your feelings hurt when your hand gets bitten. For it’s learned behavior, acquired by frequent injustices. With continual empathy, patience, and a thick skin, in time a lovable, bouncing puppy will emerge from the downtrodden beast who discovers the genuine trust of a real friend.
While I could boast of having a lot of friendly acquaintances, I have far fewer of what I’d consider close friends. I’m quiet by nature and am guarded about my home life. In other words, I value maintaining a sort of reclusiveness. Some are “people persons,” some aren’t. I’ve never been drawn to social situations. You certainly won’t find me hosting or attending many parties. But this also means that loyal friends are hard to come by, relationships challenged in terms of development. Yet, those few close friends that have graced my life are nothing short of wonderful. In my good fortune, they fill my existence with gladness and a matchless sense of balance. I'm grateful.
It’s not easy for me to ask for help when needed. Equally so, it’s not easy for me to accept help when offered. These past ten days have produced scary moments between my son’s extended illness and my husband’s surgery and complications thereof. I’ve run on fumes. Even those fumes were dissipating fast. I couldn’t think beyond my dominating heart that seemed to pound right out of my chest.
I held a silent prayer in that beating heart. God heard. Two hours later, some dear friends insisted on stepping in so I could have a break. “Please, let us do this,” they offered. As I started to decline, I felt a divine nudge that said, “Now, now, you asked me and I’ve provided. You’d better say yes.” I did. In fact, I broke down and cried with a heart full of gratitude, rested, and got refueled, ready for anything. Today hasn’t provided much change from yesterday in circumstances, yet my spirit is renewed—thanks to dear ones who answered my private prayer, vessels of a miracle moment.