This last year I have spent a lot of time 'de-cluttering' as
I have moved home, and begun to dispose of my late Mother's household
effects. Mind you, the latter sometimes worked against the former
as I found myself transferring items and photographs and files
to the Vicarage - 'to think about later' !... So more bags end
up being pushed into my spare rooms and cupboards!
Maybe I am just an incorrigible boarder...
But of course many of these things represent precious memories
- which is what makes them hard to dispose of. Then again, do
our memory banks too need de-cluttering; de-fragmenting sometimes
(for those familiar with computer housekeeping!). Do our minds
get just too full of experiences and emotions?
The period after Easter and before Ascension - the season of
Eastertide - is one where Christians are urged to focus on the
joy of resurrection, of the promise of new life. We are lucky
in the Northern Hemisphere that this coincides with Spring and
the promise of new growth, new life all around us. But sometimes
it is difficult to feel really joyful after the events of Easter.
And - as a colleague reminded me recently-perhaps this is understandable;
for resurrection starts with death. We are coming from a pretty
dark and deep point of despair and it takes a while to climb
up to anything approaching joy. The disciples too found themselves
overwelmed by emotions and experiences after the events of that
first Easter. They knew the total despair of seeino their friend
and teacher die horribly on a cross. Then the unexpected and
mysterious experience of his appearances - once more alive and
yet changed. They found it hard to make sense of initially. What
to do next?
Some of them found refuge in going back to old familiar ways...
John the Evangelist tells us of a fishing trip when Peter and
some of the others decided to try their luck back in their old
job. But even their old skills seemed no longer to provide the
solace, the consolation they were seeking. Only when someone
on the shore hails them and tells them to try once more - on
the other side of the boat - do they discover the miraculous
catch of fish.... Only when they trust in the word of an 'unknown'
stranger - rather than their own professional expertise - do
they begin to experience God's blessing on their labours. And
then Peter had to learn to lay aside his personal problems and
concerns and instead to take on the agenda of the other - who
of course, turned out to be the risen Christ - offering him total
acceptance, forgiveness for his shortcomings and a fresh commission
- a new task that would occupy Peter for the rest of his life.
Presumabiy; from that moment on Peter had to let go of all his
old ways - his bnai hic nets and nil, the paraphernalia of a
professional fishermen - in order to make way for his new career
as an Apostle and founder of the Church? I wonder if he needed
help to de-clutter his life too?