Most of my readers are aware of the huge downsizing I’ve had to go through this year. It wasn’t exactly my choice, though I’d been saying for years it had to happen.
If you recall last March I struggled with packing up our four-bedroom home and reducing my stuff to a two-bedroom apartment. Then I forced myself to part with more for a move to a one- bedroom apartment. My heart had to take a few more jolts to let go of my storage space conglomeration, and because I was moving again to smaller one-bedroom I had to eagle eye what I had left.
I think Marie Condo, the organizer guru,was on to something when she said, “Keep only things that speak to your heart.” The first move I found too many things that spoke to my heart such as my first doll, my first teddy bear, and mementoes from my children. With gritted teeth and help from a friend I let many of them go.
By the third move I was so tired I let things walk out the door with friends and strangers.
Yesterday I needed a large vase and tore through my cupboards looking for my favorite blue vase my husband and I received for a wedding present all those years ago. I realized it was one of the items that probably ended up in a thrift shop somewhere.
As much as I miss some of my “stuff” , and at times feel sad about it, I believe I feel freer now. I don’t spend my time rearranging or looking or taking care of endless objects that I thought meant a great deal to me. In reality they were just objects, some left from an era of family that had no meaning to me, but yet guilt wouldn’t let me part with them because they were family relics. Relics kept because they had meaning to past family members but escaped my adoration.
It’s exciting to fill my space with fun eclectic finds all new to me which speak to my heart as Marie Kondo advised. Yet, I find the few things I have kept from the past, whether I realized it or not, speak to my heart too.
From the pictures on my walls to the knickknacks gracing my tables when I see them they each have a memory of someone special in my life.
One memory may be strange but unique. The time of Lent and Easter is a reminder of not only the season for me, but of my mom. Every Easter season, on Palm Sunday we received palms. They were the tall, willowy ones. My mom would keep hers and braid it. She was very good at the art, and then she would put it n a vase where we could see it. I never asked why, or if I did, in my young age, I never paid attention to the answer. Doing my research I found the palms symbolize the warding off of evil and are supposed to be burned the following year on Ash Wednesday. The Palms having been blessed, should only be burned and buried, and it also is an old tradition to burn the blessed branches before natural disasters asking God to avert or lessen the coming disaster.
I found a braided palm when I packed up my mom’s house over twenty years ago. I remember the final years she lived in her home, it sitting in a vase in the window. I may not be Catholic anymore but the roots run deep,and I knew you didn’t throw the palm away. There was something about it that touched my heart knowing my mom’s love of her religion, and what the palm symbolized to her. I could see her braiding it with care. I kept it. It sat on my windowsill in a vase reminding me of her.
Fast forward to all of these moves. I took a little heat from people that I wouldn’t let go of that braided palm. They didn’t understand my stubbornness. I carefully packed it and unpacked it all three times. It’s brittleness making it a challenge to move so it didn’t disintegrate in the packing. Today it sits in another vase in my bedroom reminding me this Easter Season of the journey to the cross and also of the past, and the faith my mom had. And…of course her talent weaving and braiding those palms.
We pare down, let go of our past lives symbolized by the stuff we have saved, hoarded, hid only to bring out to see what was in the box and always feel guilty because our family chides us about all we keep. Yet, somewhere in the muddle of the junk and the regrets of keeping so much are the memories that are attached, because there are mementos which melt our hearts each time we look at them. They help us remember who we are, where we came from and what matters. Those are the items we need to keep to help us stay attached to our roots. The ones we have to ponder deeply, hold to our hearts and ask ourselves how deeply they speak to our heart and why.
Someday I will burn the braided palm. Or perhaps my family will in my last days. Maybe I’ll be surprised and it will be passed on down the family for as long as it will hold together to remind them of God’s love, His sacrifice of His son and the roots that are deep into our life called family.