Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Living Within My Means

     "This is painful," says I.
      He leans in to see what I'm viewing on the computer screen.
     "What's painful?"
     Learning to live within my means. I'm viewing a friend's blog. She's covering some very lovely items at upscale resale shops. She's talking wants vs. needs. She's celebrating loveliness in the painful way I learned is required. It is enough to admire a beautiful thing. I don't need to possess beauty to enjoy it.
      At a house blessing last night, I found myself admiring the spare loveliness of arrangements. The house has half the pictures, half the knick knacks of my home. It's getting on spring and I have the urge, which kicks in after every Christmas, to purge.
      The urge to purge. I want to, but don't, do the house-cleaning I should. I want to comb my books and give away what I don't read or need any more. There are prisons ministries accepting books for exchange. I could donate and give reading to hungry minds. I want to relinquish some lovely framed photos, some old pottery, etc. But I'm afraid I will only treat my decor like my wardrobe. I purge, then replace.
I didn't realize until recently this seasonal urge may be linked to Lent and Pascha. My Romanian friend says that every Holy Week, Orthodox Christians in Romania, clean house. They dust, polish, and purge. They beat the rugs and polish floors. Spring cleaning, says I. But during the exhausting, service-filled week of Holy Week? Really? It would be a nice way to end the season of Lent, which is a spiritual house-cleaning. It would be so wonderful to come to Pascha with a tidy home and tidy soul. I know I get a bit jiggered about cleanliness and shopping, baking and wrapping up preparations for the Easter Feast. Could I manage it all? I can when Easter and Pascha coincide, when I get my week beforehand off. I can do the services and the work. It feels rigorous and good. It compliments fasting. I know cause I tried last year. I have sallow eyed photos of me with pans of Pascha Bread for senior baskets at St. Basil's. I had a clean house too. I had a weak attempt at a tidy soul. It worries to think what suffered. I'm better at some disciplines than others. Then again, if I can't give out of my desire for neatness and order and surplus, am I?
     Here comes Lent. Here comes a few weeks of fasting. I'm clearing out the wine, the olive oil, the faux cheese powders that a girl with restricted diet indulges with.  I'm also shopping for gardening, seed starting and spring repairs. It's at odds with the sparity I seek. Forgive me for making up a work. It's creating disparity.
It's also painful because I can't quite afford those seeds yet. I can't give up what I've got and I can't buy more. Ah, the spiritual state I bring to Great Lent. Could it be a better time to get started?

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