Before moving back to my hometown in Wisconsin from Shelter Island, NY – my home for a quarter of a century – my wife Patty and I held a yard sale. I found the experience exhausting, especially spiritually. Trying to decide what can stay and what must go… I felt like I was reenacting Sophie’s Choice. Well, that might be a little dramatic, but you get the point.
We were moving to a 2-bedroom condo, so I knew the 4-bedroom manse needed to be cleared of the excess clutter and woefully unnecessary. Since I pride myself on not being materialistic, I was convinced this sale would be easy to organize and successful. It should not take long to select what needs to go, what needs to stay, what to price it, then sell it and take any leftovers to donate or the dump.
I was so wrong. I had a horrible time choosing to dispose of anything. I had hundreds of books and selected three for the sale. We had four sets of dishes, yet my wife Patty came up with a specific reason to keep each color and pattern. We had enough knickknacks and frames to fill a dumpster, but wound up only filling a shoebox. I even struggled with shirts and sweaters, while Patty had difficulty with her purses and shoes. By the morning of the sale, we'd gathered about $50 worth of stuff to sell.
We should have cancelled, but did not, and we sold everything in 15 minutes to two yard sale “experts.” As we were cleaning up, my son pointed out all the tools and yard equipment in the garage and reminded me he had never seen me handle a saw or swing an ax. He was correct.
We needed eights trips to the dump/donation center to rid ourselves of our excess items prior to our move back to Wisconsin. Only then did I face the fact that I truly did not need the vast array of junk, many things still in their original wrapping. It was embarrassing to see the human scavengers awaiting my latest haul. Word must have leaked out – The Grimbol’s had finally waved the white flag and were surrendering all their ample goodies to the “goody pile.“
Retirement is like a yard sale for the soul. It is a time of clearing out clutter, removing any cobwebs and taking some personal garbage to the dump. While you do not make any money, you are rewarded with a renewed sense of priorities in their proper order, more time on your hands, and knowing exactly what, where and why everything is. Retirement, when properly utilized, creates a clean heart, and oh how God does love a spotless soul.
I recently narrowed my potential manuscript writing list, which was once over fifty, down to five. I have selected some themes for sermons, storytelling programs, and for a series of paintings I plan to complete. I’ve focused on fostering a few strong, substantial friendships, and said goodbye to a great many acquaintances. I have packed up my grudges, auctioned off desires for revenge, and made the decision to simply forgive everyone for everything. I’ve bottled my worries, discontinued my anxiety, and made the goal of every day to make somebody else’s day better.
My faith has grown cleaner, simpler, and far less messy. I have no use for dogmas or doctrines, and have grown weary of denominational petty politics and protocol. I just see Jesus as the champion of the poor and the outcast, and the Kingdom to be composed of equality, justice, and peace. Bottom line, if Grace is true, we are all going to heaven, and we shouldn’t bother caring anyway, as we have more than enough to do in creating heaven here on earth by doing good, not just being good.
My soul has been simplified down to the basics. It is leaner, kinder and far less religious. I know Christ expects me to love my enemies, and that alone can occupy three or four lifetimes.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.