Without a doubt, the most difficult task in my de-cluttering is the boxes of papers, pictures, and letters. Seriously, there are about five large, heavy tubs at least.
Eventually, I want to scan many of the pictures, so they are staying for now – but I’m sifting through the papers and seeing what I still want to keep. I used to write a lot of sad poetry – that’s going. Much of the stuff the kids made when they were teeny tiny is also going – I’ll just keep a few select, favorite creations. I have thrown out a few pictures of people or places that I don’t recognize. Today alone, I filled one garbage bag full with this kind of paper/picture/letter stuff.
It gets tricky when it comes to my mom and dad’s papers and pictures. Dad was really into genealogy and I’ve told myself I might want to read all his findings “someday” – but that means holding on to copious amounts of paperwork in the meantime. Also, all his writings that were never published (and which I can barely read because his handwriting was so terrible) – I can’t quite part with it yet. Especially because from what I’ve read, it seems like many of his spiritual struggles were similar to mine and I feel like if I really take time to read it, I might come to understand him in a way I haven’t before. I would like that. Perhaps I will post some of his writing here – and then I guess technically it WILL be published. That would be a dream come true for my dad.
I think I’ll start right now. Hold on – I’m going downstairs to get one of his notebooks…
I’m back. I grabbed a notebook from 1969 – he would have been 36 years old. This was the year before I was born. By this time, he had been on disability leave from parish ministry for a while – maybe 5 years. He left full-time ministry because of his various health issues after only three years in the parish.
The air can be stifling. So hot and miserable that it chokes. There’s an absence of that “peace that passes all understanding.” We may reach for our old escape hatches. We find they are gone.
I felt so alone that I feared each moment. A meaningless moment is hell. To wander aimlessly without purpose is hell. There must be a purpose and a goal.
There’s nothing so stifling as the loss of peace. I lost that peace. I was serving at Tea, South Dakota (as a pastor). The nest became rougher and rougher. Finally, I was forced from the nest. I couldn’t fly – I hid in apartments. I hid from all the world.
But peace escaped me. Again and again, I tried to fly – I couldn’t. Then things became worse. I fell into deep depression. The darkness of night was frightening. I feared life and I feared death.
How can I explain the inner torture? How can someone understand the inner hell I knew?”
He never spoke about any of this to us. He wrote down his heart. I do that, too.
These last days as I’ve been worrying about health issues, I’ve been pondering that passage from Philippians about “peace that passes all understanding.” I hope my dad eventually found that peace at some point during his earthly life. If he did, I hope he wrote about it so I can find out someday – somewhere in those piles and piles of paper in my basement.