My family and I have been in a liminal space for the last two years. We moved to Nashville in 2015, knowing it would be temporary, but not knowing for how long. We left half of our things behind in Los Angeles. Since First UU Winnipeg voted to call me in May, we have been strategizing how to downsize everything and get stuff from two cities in the US to one city in Canada. It required us to fly back to LA and spend a week going through everything we’d left behind, purging and sorting, paring down until we could fit it into only two UBoxes.
We also have a complicated relationship with this house in LA. Of course we were grateful to have had a roof over our heads, and a place in which we brought two babies into our family. But the house itself seems to carry malevolence towards its occupants that even my deeply atheist, rationalist partner will acknowledge, and the list of incidents extends back to folks who lived there before it was ours. Nothing life-threatening, but more than just minor annoyances, and definitely expensive as the years passed.
In the purging of our belongings, we found a small pile of papers that were too sensitive to simply throw away — they needed to be disposed of securely. I decided that instead of finding someone with a shredder, we would burn them in the fireplace, and let the fire cleanse us and the house of the past.
So, on the last day, after UHaul had finally gotten the boxes out of our backyard, we lit a fire and burned all that which we could not take with us or pass along to others. Not only did we burn physical papers, but we intentionally took the time to meditate on what it meant to burn our resentment and frustration at all the ways we failed to make this house truly our home. We have one more week back in our temporary place, in Nashville, before hitting the road north to our new settlement.
When was the last time you dug deeply into your surroundings, shedding that which you no longer need or truly want? What rituals do you have in your life to help you process changes, whether large or small? How do you take the place where you live and make it your home?