Yesterday morning, my wife looked out our window and said, “What the hell is that?!”
I looked, and there was a filing cabinet sitting on our curb where our recycling and trash bins need to go. It was as though someone was just trying to get rid of it, and so they left it in our trash space.
The thing is, of course, if you want something like that hauled away, you have to pay for it. And it wasn’t ours to begin with. We didn’t own it, and we didn’t put it there.
So I called the city. I was referred to the Recycling Administration, Department of Illegal Dumping.
The Department of Illegal Dumping. Really?! Yep. And they came and got the filing cabinet and hauled it away. We didn’t have to hang onto it, or find an expensive way to get rid of it, or take on someone else’s castoff, useless furniture.
That is to say, we didn’t need to take on someone else’s shit.
How often have I found illegally dumped crap in my mind? Something someone else has left behind, or something I’ve created out of old pieces and parts, something to be to be carried away by the normal cognitive recycling teams?
How often have you found “illegally dumped” stuff in your mind.
How has it made you feel, to know that you were holding onto something that wasn’t yours, you couldn’t change (though I suppose I could have taken a baseball bat to that cabinet), and that was hurting you?
I know it makes me feel awful, just wretched, to carry around other people’s illegal refuse of the mind. There are plenty of opportunities every day for me to deal with microaggressions and pain that comes and goes in the moment. Need I also hang onto what others have left behind out of cruelty, neglect, or misapprehension?
Sometimes, I think the answer is yes, actually. Sometimes I think the answer is that we need to grieve that we have this crap we’re carrying it around. But “joy comes in the morning,” which is a shorthand way of saying that while we may swell our eyes shut with grieving tears, grief need not last forever. And then, and then we can make the call…
The call to the Department of Illegal Dumping of the Mind.
See them in your mind.
Are they like gnomes with pickaxes, breaking things up into manageable chunks for you? Are they more like the “minions,” ever helpful? Are they mid-level bureaucrats who are outraged on your behalf and immediately dispatch helpful, knowledgeable people in enormormous trucks to come and pluck away that illegally dumped crap you have learned how to get rid of?
I too often hold onto what has been illegally dumped onto my psychic doorstep. I let my mental front yard get cluttered with the refuse of past wounds–scabs and peelings every which way. But I don’t have to.
For some of you, this may seem basic. So simple it hardly warrants mentioning.
For me, and I know for others of you, it’s not simple–at least, it’s not easy.
So today, I am inclined to make a meditation practice of clearing my front garden. To get rid of illegal refuse of the mind. To let go the scraps of woundedness that serve no purpose, though they may have protected me at one time.
To let myself grieve. But not to be defined only by those thing over which I grieve. Let the Department of Illegal Dumping take care of those things, cart them away, and reuse, recycle, or compost them into something good and new and useful.
These are my thoughts today, friends. Be well, and know I am thinking of you with love.
Candidates for Ministerial Fellowship
Congratulations to all the Unitarian Universalist candidates for ministry who turned in Ministerial Fellowship Committee packets last week!
You have moved up a difficult path, you have done hard work, and now there is a brief respite. Between now and the end of September, when your fall panel interviews begin, there is a moment, a pause, a space in which to take a breath. I hope you find the time to take that breath.
And then, of course, it’s “once more into the breach,” and you’re off again, writing your sermon, choosing your first question for the panel, and getting ready in whatever ways seem good and right and helpful to you.
Do you know others who are coming along after you who might find a coach useful along their way? Who might want another set of eyes, comments, suggestions, and discussion about their material?
Even closer to home, would you like help working on your sermon, thinking through your first question, and prepping for the panel.
In either case, please feel free (or invite others) to look at my MFC Prep page on the Way of the River website, and book a half-hour free consultation with you to see what good work we might do together.
Again, congratulations to those who have turned in their materials this week. Best wishes as you move forward!