According to those who know about these things it is one of the most stressful things you can do…….
There’s no doubt there is something about it. It’s not just the physical effort of packing and lugging stuff downstairs and off to the new place and then when you get there up more stairs. Undoubtedly some of it is about the emotion of it.
There is the sadness of endings. There is the challenge of letting go of all that is familiar. There is the fear of the new. Clearly all this puts demands on our emotional life. We find the move, maybe especially the preparation for the move, quite draining.
However that said I think there might be even more to it. There is something very deep going on here. Is it that the packing up forces us to do a review of our lives? Is it that all the sorting and keeping and discarding add up to a run through the good the bad and the ugly of our journey?
Is there not something very sobering about the idea that we can put so much of our lives into a few boxes? And this is even before we start asking questions about what we should keep and what we should discard!
I guess when we begin the process of ‘packing up’ we are reminded once again where we are on the hoarder/dumper spectrum. I have great admiration for people who are detached and disciplined enough to repeatedly let go of their ‘stuff’.
At least I think I have. I think I have admiration for them. If I am to be really honest I’m not sure I admire them that much. I mean how can you actually let go of things that meant so much to you one day years ago? How can you actually let go of things that could turn out valuable in twenty years time? I look at these people and I want to scream at them ‘don’t dump it, do you not realise that it might be useful someday…..to someone…..for something…?’
Yes, you got it. I am a bit of a hoarder. I try to work against it. I try every now and then to do a bit of a clean out. That said there is still that part of me that tends to hang on to stuff. Some of this is about hanging on to the security blanket. Some of it about not having enough, about the rainy day. Whatever about all that, this packing up is quite a challenging experience. I have been thinking and praying about it more and more these past few days, I guess trying to get the help of the Holy Spirit to enlighten me as to what is really going on.
Enter! Stage left, the Holy Spirit. Now of course this is when things get really serious. One of the great gifts of the Holy Spirit is of course light. Enlightenment. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we get true wisdom. The wisdom that comes to us from God. In addition to this what I really love is the ability or the power of the same Holy Spirit, the breath of God, to surprise us.
In the presence of the Holy Spirit I realised that the reason this ‘packing up’ has such an impact on us is that it is a profound experience. It is so deep an experience it actually brings into the heart of what matters. I have come to see the process of packing up as fundamentally about life and death.
I think packing up sits dangerously close to packing it in. I think at some deep level, no doubt mostly at a subconscious level, packing up is a form of dying. It’s no surprise then that packing up leads to a sense of loss. There follows a grieving. Packing up can be a real loss, a bereavement. The more I explore this notion the more I understand why the psychologist cites this process as very high on the stress monitor.
Of course for you and I as followers of Jesus there is no dying without rising. No Cross without the Empty Tomb. The packing up then is of course connected with closure and endings and conclusions but it is also very much about new beginnings, new chapters full of possibilities.
Packing up then, for us Christians is about little deaths funneling into the great refreshing experience of the Risen Christ who makes all things new! So for you, for me, we do at times pack up but we never pack it in. If we believe we are loved unconditionally and beyond measure by the Lord, as we truly are, packing it in is not an option!