Clearing out the Clutter

Recently myself and Mrs limey have started to clear out some of the stuff that has accumulated over the years. Moving house a year ago has helped a little to prompt that. However I am a natural hoarder while my lovely wife is not, so this tends to generate a few predictable discussions.

One of the challenges is that we have become the storage location of choice for much of my late mother’s things, which also means her parents things as well since she was an only child. Some of the stuff is incredible, like a couple of books that are more than 100 years old. What am I supposed to do with stuff?

There are some treasured items which have gone into a box and are now in the loft. However there are many other items which are far less treasured, what to do with them? Books have been the biggest problem. Its not just books that have come from Mum though, its also books that I have hoarded over the years. Books which, quite frankly, no one wants these days.

I compiled a sample list of the books and included those which I thought were the most desirable and valuable of the lot and sent it to a couple of bookshops which said they specialised in old books. They didn’t want any of them. A specialist old book store was not interested in a leather bound book that was 100 years old! Confused? You bet I was!

It could be that much of this list of old books is religious in nature. However, not all were.

So I am left with a few boxes of books which I really don’t know what to do with. I guess dropping them off at the local charity shop is my only choice. Yet am I doing any good by dumping on them stuff that clearly no one wants? Am I only shifting the storage and disposal quandary from myself to a charity?

Maybe I should just dump them all at the local waste disposal depot.

Yet the hoarder in me really does not want to do that, it is almost too painful to consider.

As well as the box old gems that I have found, there are also some classic children’s books. My mother was an avid reader as a young girl and had many books. Somehow all those books have survived and now I have them. Sorting through them I have a whole box of books with inscriptions in them to my mother for various achievements. Many of these books were prizes or rewards given her as a young girl, a young girl not much older than my own daughter.

The romantic in me wants my daughter to pick up these books and read them and love them like my mother did. They are old hardback books from the 1950s. Would a modern girl like my daughter even appreciate them? Even if she doesn’t, how can I get rid of a loved possession of my mother’s which pinpoints a specific part of her young life? I have a whole box of these pinpoints!

So I have had to create several boxes. Boxes to keep, boxes to keep for now, boxes I should disposes of but can’t and finally boxes of stuff to go. It will come as no surprise that the last category is the smallest.

So clearing out the clutter has resulted more dilemma instead of the hoped for peace and space.

In all that lot I found some old books of mine which I will be disposing of. Including all my 1960s James Bond books. I’ve had to be tough.

Then I discovered a couple of old bibles of mine. One is an RSV (oh that weird old English with thee and thou!) with a memento in it from my baptism and other markings I added over the years. There was also a bible I was ready to drop in the bin when I opened it up and saw the inscription. Given to me when my mother remarried, I remember the occasion, it was a happy day. It was her gift to me on that day. In it my step-father is described as my “friend in the Lord“. A phrase that I chose and sounds rather pathetic and twee more than 20 years later. He is also a man whom I have no love for, my attitude towards him is best described as contempt.

So that book went into the “I don’t know” pile as well.

The clear-out hasn’t been as successful as we had hoped. I think I’m going to have to toughen up and not pay so much attention to my emotions when we revisit this again, because I know we’ll have to.

Until that happens, the past will still hold me through the objects that represent it. That is a past mostly filled with happy memories and disposing of those objects feels like I am betraying those that are gone whom I still love.

Pondering the effectiveness of Prayer

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that during my Christian days I was utterly convinced of the effectiveness of prayer.

Over the last two decades (and probably more) there have been a number of tests for the effectiveness of prayer, this article is just one example of many that exist on the subject (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/23/AR2006032302177.html). It was during the 1990s that I first became aware of such tests and the negative conclusions. As a dedicated Christian at the time I very quickly dismissed them; referring to Luke chapter 4 and not testing God (http://bible.cc/luke/4-12.htm).

It was clear in my mind at the time that these attempts by doubting scientists were invoking some form of supernatural hide and seek and God was not going to perform for them.

Over the years, as more and more of these articles came out, the conclusions started to bother me more and more. My pat apologetics to the problem was becoming less convincing to myself and for a while I actively ignored the difficulties it caused me.

Anyway, there was always the major power of prayer event that happened to me that I could fall back on (https://confessionsofayec.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/the-dramatic-deliverance/). After that event I did get involved in my church’s prayer for healing ministry and over the next few years prayed for a fair few people. I saw many blessed by the experience of prayer, that is to say they said they felt blessed and the walked away smiling. Did I ever experienced something that would categorically come under the banner of answered prayer that I could honestly say would have been validated by a scientists watching?

No. There was once a time when a friend and I were praying for an elderly lady at a weekend away and she specifically asked for prayer for her failing hearing. My friend and I prayed for that, we were full of faith that it could happen, and after what felt like 10-15 minutes she did say, in response to my friend asking, that yes her hearing had improved a little. We both praised the Lord. However, even at that time, I did hold a little doubt in my mind that she was actually being completely truthful. I can’t explain why I questioned her honesty, it was a good 15 years before I was to start the path I am on today. So, no I don’t believe I ever saw anything that qualified as supernatural answer to prayer.

Yet for many years I continued to accept and believe that the power of prayer was real and effective around the world constantly.

When I look back now I do wonder if my prayer experiences and the reports of studies failing to find a link would sow a seed of doubt that would later take root. I can’t say for certain that is the case, I think its just one of those things that sits there and nags at the sub conscious and suddenly you realise its there when other things click into place.

When I read those same studies and articles now I do see how they are rigorous and not at all biased against faith. They are honest testing and should be taken seriously and for me they serve as proof that I do now hold the right answer.