“Meister Eckhart, the German Dominican mystic (c. 1260-c.1328), said that spirituality has much more to do with subtraction than it does with addition.  Yet our culture, both secular and Christian, seems obsessed with addition: getting rich, becoming famous, earning more brownie points with God or our boss, attaining enlightenment, achieving moral behavior. Jesus and the mystics of other traditions tell us that the spiritual path is not about getting more or getting ahead, which only panders to the ego. Authentic spirituality is much more about letting go—letting go of what we don’t need, although we don’t know that at first.” cac.org
When’s the last time you had a yard sale? For one or two days we dust off all those necessities which have been stored away in the attic or garage and make a decision that we no longer need them. Many of our cherished keepsakes are simply not worth keeping. They are not heirlooms, they do not enhance our lives, and they likely will not be the cash cows we had hoped they would be.
It’s a cleansing endeavor which adds a few bucks to the household pantry budget, sweeps out the dark corners of our houses, and declutters prime storage spaces. For the cost of a few hours of our time we receive the realization that material things are not really all important and we recognize how they can actually clutter our daily routines.
Ahhh, you’re way ahead of me; you see where this is going, don’t you? Yes, my spiritual life also needs to occasionally have a yard sale. Meister Eckhart agrees. Today, I am serious about my Quest to become the man my Higher Power would have me be. By God’s grace I now have the willingness and sincerity of heart to make a difference in this world. I have realized my need for a Shepherd. I took my sorry butt to the altar and begged for renewal and, miraculously, the trash which I had called ‘my life’ became another voice calling out of the darkness. Sobriety grabbed me off the beach of drunkenness and said, “Follow me. I will make you a fisher of men.”
But, my humanness continues to have a need to feed the ego which drives me. I am still broken in many places and I often look to the place within which has served me well in the past. I continue to accumulate unfounded fears, I harbor resentments, I entertain unhealthy thoughts, and I resort to anger. These character defects have been a part of me for many years, they have gathered dust in my brain, and they have become the unnecessary yard sale stuff in my attic which regularly needs a housecleaning.
My humanness also leads me to want to gather favor with God, to think I can influence God’s opinion of me, and to believe my works will put me in better standing with God. My humanness drives me to look upward for enlightenment believing it is a condition to be attained, a place in the heavens where God will love me more than here on earth. My humanness continues to try to deceive me.
It’s tough to accept that less is more in my spiritual life. Emptying out one’s self is serious internal work because my ego enjoys the religious traditions, the church doctrines, and the hymns of worship. But, that’s all icing on the cake, tasty but not necessary. Emptying out is like a twinkling star on the horizon, a newly discovered truth to be followed, a way of life to be embraced. It’s somewhat like the story which tells of the appearance of Jesus in Bethlehem. He replaced everything which the Jewish people thought they needed in life to attain salvation in heaven. They had a rich tradition, but, it was not necessary and eventually led to stuffed attics and bulging garages.