Monday, April 6, 2009

breaking the fast

i decided in december 08 that i would fast from buying clothing for the first three months of 09. it wasn't that big a deal - i don't buy many clothes, and never anything very fancy. but it helped me notice - which is what fasts are for.
i like to go by walmart or old navy and see if there's something on sale. i like to have a few extra pairs of blue jeans (since that's pretty much the only pants i wear). i like to have plenty of white socks (since that's pretty much the only socks i wear). i like to have plenty of boxers. i also like fun long-sleeved shirts to wear at journey worship gatherings. but i never buy anything very fancy, and never anything very expensive. so, again, it's not as if i fasted from, say, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. THAT would be difficult.
and yet it was fascinating to me for those three months to notice that i was doing something different with that energy, and attention, and time, and money, rather than buying clothes - albeit simple clothes.
i'm not even sure what i did instead. except that after a week or so of noticing that when i went to walmart, i didn't browse through the clothes or shoes, and i didn't go by old navy to look in their clearance section.
and i noticed how much i like the clothes i already have.
and i noticed that there were a lot of clothes that i don't like, and don't wear or don't wear very often, so i gave them away. without even minding for a moment.
this spring at journey we're doing something called "journey 2.0," in which we're all looking at how we follow jesus together as a faith community and as individuals. and giving up stuff is part of that process. i mean, seriously, we're the richest nation in the world - maybe in the history of the world, even with adjustment for inflation and cultural developments. do we really need all this shit we own? absolutely not.
it felt really, really good to let go. travel lighter. go easier.

and then it was over, and it was april 1. and it was time to buy some clothes. my wife said, "do you need to buy clothes? you haven't minded getting rid of clothes. are you sure you need to do this?"
i wasn't even interested in buying anything. i had no desire. but i believe it's important to break a fast. to celebrate the time i've spent in attending to that decision. and then to interrupt the pattern.
more attention.

i went to a store for some other errand. i walked around the men's clothes. i could've gone to the mall - to drive the point home to myself, because i hate going to the mall - but i decided to take a simple step. it was a store i was going to anyway. but i had it on my mind to buy something.
i bought a shirt. a short-sleeved shirt that would be good to have this summer. i didn't want to buy anything - but it was a good shirt, it was on sale, and it was a smart purchase.
i let it sit there on the chair in our bedroom for a day or two. showed it to my wife. looked at it.
it's just a shirt. but it meant something. attention. awareness. openness. letting go. pretty much all that's required for following jesus.

i now am going to be looking for some workboots with steel toes to replace the ones i've had forever, with torn-open toes that aren't as safe as they should be when i'm working outside or building stuff.
no hurry.


Laurel said...

Congratulations on your quest to live more thoughtfully. Success!! with this "trifling" you write about. I posted on my blog my class assignment on, as my teacher phrases it, "Trifling Little Experiences in Everyday Life" Experiment in Nonviolence. ...Testing Ghandi's theory. For your clothes experiment that you write about, you purposely removed yourself from the overly consumer oriented mind-set, which inadvertently helped plant a seed to live more nonviolently and as Ghandi said, "we can cultivate nonviolence within ourselves by attending to the little ways in which we are constantly tempted..." Congratulations once again and curious what your next "trifling" will be.

Chiron' said...

; )