Pile It On! Stuff and a Spiritual Journey

Sometimes a strong image will appear to me during meeting for worship. About two years ago I had a very strange vision of wading through endless piles of broken, heavy objects. The image made sense because I often feel that what I ought to do is get rid of stuff. Because de-junking is such a wrought process for me, I am much more likely to move the clusters of toys, beloved drawings, clean laundry, partially read newspapers, and junk mail to another room.

Then I began to wonder about the vision. Maybe it meant more. Was it a metaphor for my untidy internal life? Or was it just the physical realm creeping into a quiet moment?

Accumulations are nothing new to me. I grew up in a house of comfortable clutter. We all knew the piles weren’t presentable. Before company or special events, our family strategy was to move them all to the basement. We never thought to bring the heaps back up because new ones were destined to cover any horizontal surface. As a young adult, I tried occasionally to "reform" the stacks in my parents’ living spaces. My most rewarding adventure was reducing and recycling the towering peaks atop the washer and dryer. Near the bottom I found an autographed photo of Sir Laurence Olivier from the 1950s.

Since stacks of stuff are a part of my life, I took time during worship to explore what this new message might hold for me. I saw myself standing in a landscape of haphazardly piled objects, Some heaps towered over me. To make my way through this environment, I had to step carefully across teetering things. Many of these objects appeared to be sharp and splintery. When I tried to dig through a shallow pile, I couldn’t even make a path. Layers of heavy items shifted themselves back into place. They were like an ocean returning to cover a trail of footprints.

The terrain changed. Now I was standing in a pile of haphazardly stacked wood. Any step might trigger a crushing collapse. I refused to stay there. Gritting my teeth, I climbed cautiously down the mound. I knew instantly something was trapped underneath. I sensed a circle of warm yellow light under all the wood. What if I moved a piece? The moment I lifted a board, a beam of light leapt forth! I braced myself for an avalanche, but nothing happened. There was only silence.

My lifelong knowledge of clutter changed at that very moment. If I could look deep inside the obstacles of my life, then nothing could threaten me. I just needed to focus on freeing the Light within. When I remember to look within an enormous pile, I no longer feel condemned to an impossible task but energized to stride forward.

Perhaps my spiritual journey is to walk through a precarious landscape looking for opportunities to release the Light.

Robin Magee

Robin Magee is a member of Durham (N. C.) Meeting. She isn't sure what form her spiritual journey might take, but she is sure the photo of Sir Laurence is in a pile somewhere in her house.