Thought for the Month - Holy Trinity, Prestwood

DH-1 A thought for the month by our Rector, Deiniol.

This month our curate Nigel has written the Thought...

I have just learned a new Swedish word (Teresia, please note!) which effectively doubles the extent of my Swedish vocabulary. The word is döstädning which I understand literally means ‘death cleaning’. Before you leap to any morbid conclusions, let me explain. It is a word that means going through all one’s belongings and deciding how to get rid of the things longer needed or wanted. It means removing unnecessary things that clutter up our homes and making sure that all is tidy and orderly when we think the time is coming closer for us to leave this planet. Towards the end of last year a Swedish author, Margareta Magnusson, published a book entitled The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, and in it she asks us to have a good look around our homes. Several of our ‘things’ have probably been there for so long that we do not even see or value them any more. Sometimes we realise that we can hardly close our drawers or barely shut our wardrobes and cupboard doors with all the ‘things’ we have accumulated. When that happens, it is definitely time to do something about it, even if we are still comparatively young.

This rings bells with me, as one of the aims of the Franciscan Order to which I belong is ‘to live simply’, even though I find it so hard to put that aim into practice. As my wife will tell you, I am up there on the leader-board with the world’s worst hoarders - I just hate getting rid of things that I have acquired down the years. In my professional life before ordination I often acted as executor of an elderly person who had no close family and I can tell you that there are few more soul-destroying jobs than sorting through years of paperwork, holiday souvenirs and other trinkets, mementos that meant something once but are now to be consigned to the tip. The regular practice of döstädning now will make it so much easier for those whom we leave behind to sort out our belongings after we’re gone.

But the benefits are not just for our family and friends. We will benefit too. We don’t need to despise material things but realising that our worth doesn’t depend on how much we possess can be very liberating for our own lives. As Magnusson writes in her book, ‘Life will become more pleasant and comfortable if we get rid of some of the abundance’.

‘Getting rid of abundance’ sounds rather strange as we approach Harvest. After all, this is the time in the Church’s Calendar each year when we give thanks to God for the abundant blessings we enjoy. We in this country still have so much to enjoy, even if the scorching Summer heat of recent weeks means that our favourite fruit or vegetables are not quite so plentiful as in previous years. The extravagance and variety of God’s creation should never cease to amaze us, and never cease to spur us on to think of new ways in which we can share our plenty with those who have far less than we do.

Once again this year we shall be focussing our Harvest giving on African Village Support and the excellent work they are doing to improve the quality of life of those in East Africa for whom merely existing from day to day is often a struggle. Do give generously, whether in cash or in items for the Mama Bags which are so appreciated by the mothers struggling to do their best for their new babies.

So what might Magnusson mean by ‘getting rid of our abundance’? I suggest that one question I and perhaps all of us should be asking this Harvest-time is this - What can I give away from my abundance that will not only make my own life more pleasant and comfortable but will also be a blessing to others? As we reflect on this question, maybe we can pray these words of the Harvest collect and make them our own:

Eternal God,
you crown the year with your goodness
and you give us the fruits of the earth in their season:
grant that we may use them to your glory,
for the relief of those in need and for our own well-being;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

May each of you know the richness of God’s blessing this Harvest-time. Over to you to make a start on döstädning in your home!

Holy Trinity, Prestwood is an Inclusive Church. We are part of the Church of England.
We are in the Oxford diocese and the Wendover Deanery.

The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of Holy Trinity, Prestwood is a registered charity, no. 1129233.

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