My ministry in Philadelphia has led me to have two homes: a house in Central Pennsylvania with my husband and an apartment in Philadelphia near the church. This week, my husband came to Philadelphia to help me to move to another apartment. As with many things in my life, this moving experience has led me to reflect and to pay attention. It is a good change, but all change has consequences.
Neither apartment is large, but the new one is big enough to have a separate office space and to host small groups. I say this so that you will know that this move was not like changing houses. Still, there were boxes of books and papers, boxes of dishes and kitchen equipment, and the basic furniture. We are no longer young, so for the first time in our adult lives, we hired some men to help us move the furniture. They looked at the furniture and said, “Oh, this is easy it’s just furniture!” It would not have been easy for us. Moving reminded me of my need for help and my appreciation for that help, both volunteer and paid. Change often means that we need help. I am grateful for community. I am grateful for caring relationships.
Rick and I moved all the boxes and all my clothing. Did I mention that the new apartment is a second floor walk-up? There are actually four flights of stairs. Most of the time, this is nothing, and I prefer having stairs so that some exercise is built into my days. Did I mention that it was the hottest day of the year so far? The morning after we carried all these boxes, I wasn’t sure I could move my body at all that day. At first, walking across the room seemed out of the question! I could and did! Moving led me to pay attention to my body and to be gentle with myself about my physical limits. Change means that we do different things. I am grateful for what I am able to do.
How could it be that I had so much stuff in a one bedroom apartment in two years of being in Philadelphia? Do I really need all that stuff? The answer, of course, is no, I don’t really need all that stuff. Some of it I gave away before the move, and some of it, I am sorting and giving away after the move. Figuring out how to use things or where to put things in a new place helps me to see what I have. There is an inertia, a not seeing, that comes from having things in the same place. Moving overcomes that inertia. Moving reminds me of my desire to live simply. We have not changed houses for 18 years. I think now would be a good time to simplify. What is in o ur house simply because of inertia and not because we are using it or will use it? What is in my life simply because of inertia? Change allows us to see things in a new way. I am grateful to see new possibilities.
Another reminder in this move came from my cat, Annie. Annie was terrified by this move. Of course, she could not understand what was happening. When she arrived at the new apartment, she ran to a dark place and hid. She only emerged wide-eyed and jumpy when I opened a can of cat food. Annie saw where I put the food and took a bite. She ran to her hiding place again. She came out crying. I petted her and showed her the litter box. She hid again until we went to bed when she started crying, only stopping when she was held and comforted. Her reactions remind me that change can be distressing especially when we do not understand what is happening. By morning, Annie was fine. She stopped crying. She knew that her needs would still be met. Food, litter box and her people were all available. She found the windows for entertainment. She slept comfortably. Annie reminded me that we all need comfort. We may need time to become comfortable with change. We can accept change more easily when we understand what is happening. I am grateful for the comfort of caring relationships. I am grateful for understanding. I am grateful for awareness.
May we all be aware of gratitude.