Eunice / Reflections

On #NothingNewYear & Interior Poverty

dbe868f44030c3a7050e0582f8eb8e13My name is Eunice and It’s been 8 months and 3 weeks since my last purchase.

Well, there was this one time in February…where I slipped up and bought a new dress from Old Navy. I brought it home only to realize it was a maternity dress so…jokes on me. But other than this one purchase, I’ve managed to stick to our resolution for 2015.

Let’s recap. Here’s what Becs and I committed to:

  1. Nothing New: We vowed not to purchase any new clothing, accessories, or jewelry. Second hand items from thrift shops and consignment stores had an upper limit of $50.
  2. Giving doubly: Each time we made a purchase, we would donate the same amount of $$$ to a worthy cause.
  3. Exceptions: Socks and undergarments were our exceptions! No seconding on that front!

Like any good melancholic, I’ve been chewing and brewing on what this resolution has really been doing in my life. It’s been a three-fold experience. Here are just some of the things I’ve noticed as a result of giving up new clothing…

1.I have realized the powerful connection between body and soul. What we do with our bodies or the physical realm of our lives not only affects our inner attitude towards our surroundings, but can actually effect change within us. In other words, our bodies lead our souls and vice versa. It sounds trite, I know.

I’ve noticed that what started earlier this year as a great desire to live more simply on the exterior has lead to a desire for an increase of interior poverty. This past summer, I spent some time finishing up Catherine Doherty’s autobiography, Fragments of My Life. The woman was incredible. I loved her before, but I am all the more enamored.

C-DeHueck-Chautauqua

Here is Doherty when she was part of the Chautauqua assemblies

She was not a religious, not officially part of any community that dictated she be poor. She simply decided to leave everything and make the decision to be poor. She gave up all her belongings to live in the slums of Toronto. Her example made me thirst for this – albeit it’s easy to desire to be poor. We romanticize the very thought of it. In reality, it meant for Doherty, little food, cold beds, nearly being killed by a faulty shower, and lots of cabbage. Can anything good come from cabbage?!

The many phases…

In the first couple months of not buying new clothes, I realized I would itch for new things. It was as if shopping had been in prior years, an outlet on stressful days or particularly gray days. But all things pass. After that, I began to feel I had too much. Over Lent, I was actually haunted by how much I owned. I delivered garbage bags full of clothing to friends and to the local VV boutique. I became pretty convicted that over consumption is a sin and gluttony is not just of the belly. Neither as CS Lewis says, is gluttony simply a question of quantity.

2. I have realized interior poverty is the ultimate end. If we become physically poor but are still obsessed with the lack of, then have we really grown? Are we really free?

Finally, the desire to be simpler in physical nature, as I mentioned, lead me to desire a sort of inner poverty. Jesus began to invite me to start clearing the excess of my inner life. Ambition. Vanity. Pride. Selfishness. Individualism. Even just the fact that I’m often lead to prayer based on how I feel – even this, he began to invite me to let go of.  Just a couple heaping bags full that had to go. And what is left? If I do not put my trust in appearances or let accomplishments and friends dictate my identity, then what do I have left?

17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and chasten; so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. // Revelation 3:17-20

One day at mass, as I was in line to receive the Eucharist, God gave me the image of people in line at a soup kitchen. Nothing more than a bunch of beggars. And I realized, I am poor. I am poor because I am nothing without God, without this Jesus whom I have known.

It was quite a shock to realize you had been poor all along.

3. I have realized there is a greater poverty.

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.”

// Mother Theresa

If you’re looking for a challenge, it’s not too late to join us. #nothingnewyear
This business of becoming poorer – I know it’s going to be a life-long work in me,

E.

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4 thoughts on “On #NothingNewYear & Interior Poverty

  1. Ok, this is inspiring. Thank you! I’m sitting here wondering if I can do it…a whole year without buying new? I think it would be hard, but it could be done! One question – was the $50 second-hand limit per item of clothing or per purchase?

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