Shedding Possessions

A couple of weeks ago, my friend George brought a website to my attention,, a site that allows one to set personal goals and track the progress toward those goals. The site also has challenges that one can enter with other members of the site.

One of the challenges that caught my eye immediately was “Shed 100 possessions.” As my husband can attest, I periodically look around the house and get crazy at all that we have. “We have too many things,” I cry out. This is usually followed by my walking around the house stuffing things in a paper bag to get rid of. Loving the idea of encouragement to get rid of more, I entered the challenge and am working my way toward reaching 100.

I don’t always easily find the words to explain this impetus to my husband. But, I know it is a good one. In a wonderful coincidence of timing, shortly after I began the “Shed 100 possessions” challenge, I came across this excerpt from Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. I think it does a great job of explaining why the impetus is positive. Rohr writes:

Living in the second half of life, I no longer have to prove that I or my group is the best, that my ethnicity is superior, that my religion is the only one that God loves, or that my role and place in society deserve superior treatment. I am not preoccupied with collecting more goods and services; quite simply, my desire and effort—every day—is to pay back, to give back to the world a bit of what I have received. I now realize that I have been gratuitously given to–from the universe, from society, and from God. I try now, as Elizabeth Seton said, “to live simply so that others can simply live.”

For St. Vincent de Paul, one of the five characterisic virues is simplicity. I can’t say I’ve achieved it (far from it), but I’m working on it.