One spring afternoon, I was working outside when I saw a couple of swallow-like birds circling, gliding, and swooping above the backyard. Less than three days later, I had installed a purple martin house.
I grew up with a purple martin house in the backyard. I looked forward to their return each spring when I could listen to their cheerful song and watch their graceful aerobatics. Martins are coveted birds to have around because their diet consists solely of mosquitos.
The swallow-like birds I saw i turned out to be barn swallows, and I’ve never seen them again.I spent the next three years trying to keep sparrows from nesting in the martin house. Yes, despite scripture and the famous Southern gospel hymn, I do not like sparrows. They’re mean to other birds, invasive, and prolific. They’re like the the roaches of the bird world.
Before the sparrows start building their nests once more, I decided that I would make the purple martin house this week’s purge. Good riddance!
I’m writing this a few days after I packed four trash bags full of clothes into my truck to take to Goodwill. I more than halved the number of clothes in my closet. Everything from dress pants to underwear went into the bags. I cut my wardrobe in half and I still have plenty of clothes, including two pairs of jeans, two pairs of cords for the winter, and three pairs of dress pants for the summer. I kept several dress shirts, polos, and sweaters, and enough underwear and socks to get through the week.
Here is a list of some of the odd articles of clothing I had accumulated over the years:
- tube socks–I probably kept these so I could wear them with the cowboy boots I never needed
- three bathing suits–I really only need one. And I know I didn’t need that speedo. 46 year-old men should not wear speedos. Even hot ones like me
- bikini underwear–No. Just no
- pastel colored polo shirts, aka Don Johnson from Miami Vice
- overalls from high school. Yes, they still fit, but let it go man.
- two wool tuxedo that were given to me but didn’t fit at all.
After dropping off the bags of clothes at Goodwill, I came home and found out that my son, Ben, didn’t have any dress clothes to wear to a semi-formal dance we were all planning to attend that evening. Instead, his clothes were at his mother’s house. I was able to find dress clothes, including shoes, for him to wear, but it left me wearing jeans and a sweater. Several folks at church already knew I was on a mission to drastically declutter and reduce, so I enjoyed telling them about giving away my clothes only to then have to dress Ben in the one appropriate suite I had left. The truth is, no one cared what I was wearing.
I’ve tackled quite a bit these last three weeks. When the weather gets warmer, I plan to sort through the disaster that is the garage. But unless I think of something else between now and next week, there may not be much left to reduce. If I think of something, you’ll be the first to know.
The shoes in this pictures went into my truck and on to Goodwill. The boots were hard to get rid of since they are in good shape and they were expensive when I bought them, even though I almost never wore them. I held on to them for as long as I did out of some unfulfilled fantasy that a hunky cowboy would knock on my door one evening and take me out two-stepping. I don’t know any cowboys and I don’t know how to two-step, so giving away the boots was a smart move. Letting go of that fantasy was even smarter.
One pair of shoes, the ones on the far left, always looked to me like they’d been run over by a car. The other brown shoes were nice, in a broken-in-kind-of-way, but they were fairly uncomfortable to wear. The same was true for the flip-flops.
Okay, I hear you. “Um, is that a fanny pack I see?” Yes, it is a fanny pack. Don’t judge. I’m 46 at the time of this writing. How many other 46 year olds have owned fanny packs? I kept that fanny pack because I loved it! Yes! I loved my fanny pack! It had a perfect amount of zippered compartments and credit card slots. It even had a see-through slot for a driver’s license. I held on to the hope that one day fanny packs would make a come back. But I have to admit that even in their heyday (when was that, exactly?), they looked pretty dorky.
“No, I wasn’t pointing out the fanny pack, but thanks for asking. Actually, I was wondering if that was a murse. Is that a murse I see, or is it a European shoulder bag? … Bwaaaaahahahahahaha!”
Sigh. Yes, I owned a man purse. But I don’t anymore, okay? So stop your laughing.
Seriously. Can we move on now?
Let me tell you about the shoes I have left. I want to know if you think what I decided to keep is excessive. Here’s the list:
- Cross-training shoes that I only wear at the gym
- Quick drying hiking shoes for the summer and for weekends
- Brown casual shoes
- Black casual shoes (they’re the same make and model, just different colors)
- Birkenstock sandals (I really don’t need these since I have the flip-flops. But I just bought them last year, I’m gay, and I couldn’t bring myself to give them away today)
- Fuzzy house shoes (These might go too. What do you think?)
- Real, lace-up army boots. (What? You think I have a fantasy that some hunky army guy is going to knock an my door and demand to see my boots? Well you’d be wrong! They were a gift from way back. I keep them so I can keep my feet warm and dry when it snows here in Middle Tennessee. Or for when I go walking in the rain [about as often as it snows])
- Ratty tennis shoes (I wear them when I mow the yard)
That’s it. I have 9 pairs of shoes. If I were really doing The 100 Thing Challenge, that would be just shy of a tenth of the number of items I could have on my list. I’m not officially doing The 100 Thing Challenge, but I want to ask you, ‘lil saints, is it excessive for one man to own 9 pairs of shoes?
Over ten years ago, I surrendered my creditials as an Elder (a pastor) in the United Methodist Church. Making that decision was difficult, but over the years it has proven to be even more difficult to let go of the tools for ministry. I scaled down my collection of books when I moved out of the last parsonage. Several years later, I gave a district superintendent a couple of robes and half a dozen stoles.
The objects in the photograph above represent the last of the items I’ve kept:
- the two crosses are models of a larger cross I encouraged a congregation to hang over the altar-table in the sanctuary;
- the paten (plate) and chalice I used to serve Holy Communion in small groups and on retreats;
- the silver chalice on the right I never used. It was a gift from a friend in seminary, who coincidently also left full-time ministry;
- the framed picture in the background is a calendar of the Christian year. This object is the hardest to give away. A coworker and friend gave me my first calendar like this while I was still in seminary. I bought one every year since then, including one for this year. That means there are over 24 calendars in that frame, one stacked on top of the other.
I’m giving these items away because I’ve found someone who might use them. I’m also doing it as a part of The 100 Thing Challenge. I’ve kept these things a long time, so obviously it isn’t easy to let them go. But I need to do it. I don’t need them and they no longer define who I am.