Over the last year our family has distributed, sold, or given away most of my mother’s possessions as we’ve turned her home into a rental while she lives out the remainder of her days in an adult family home. Picking up Christmas decorations, hand-embroidered linens, or even the gas-station give-away plastic-handled steak knives raised unexpected memories of times past. Each item brought forth a series of questions. “Do I want it? Would someone in the family want it? Is it worth selling? Should it be given away? Do I recycle it? Do I throw it out?”
The first question sometimes caught me off guard. “Do I want it?” led me to ask, “Could I use it? Would I use it?” Sometimes I freely admitted I could not, and would not use it, yet I did not want to pass it on or throw it away. Which then led me to admit, I am attached to that item. I could not let it go to someone else.
We can be attached to things, to ideas, even to our understanding of what “ought” to be. Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, Ignatius reminds those who are praying the exercises during a retreat, that when they are faced with a decision, they should aim for a holy indifference. They should not be attached to the outcome (assuming the outcomes being considered are within God’s will.) A fellow spiritual director reminded us during one SEEL retreat that the English word “attach” comes from French and Germanic roots that mean “staked or nailed to.” Ah. Our attachments are those things we are nailed to that prevent us from making good decisions. They are the things that make it impossible for us to have a holy indifference about the outcome.
A few people have asked about the future of our congregation. Will we strive to stay open? Will we seek to combine our resources with another congregation, worshiping together or separately? Will we close our doors at this location? Reading these options (and there are more than these three) may reveal whether you are attached to the future direction of this congregation. Can you hold a “holy indifference” about where God may guide this congregation into its future?
As the authors of the Ignatian Spirituality website (IgnatianSpirituality.com) summarize, “Ignatian spirituality emphasizes interior freedom. To choose rightly, we should strive to be free of personal preferences, superfluous attachments, and pre-formed opinions. Ignatius counseled radical detachment: “We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.” Our one goal is the freedom to make a wholehearted choice to follow God.”
Join me this summer in praying for a radical detachment, a “holy indifference,” a willingness to consider all the choices for our congregation’s future that God will reveal to us. It is in the freedom to consider all options that, I believe, we will clearly be shown the way God has for us.