Crying in the Kitchen
This summer I was especially taken with the verses in Philippians where Paul declares, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” My heart resonated. My soul cried, “Yes! Christ is all I need.” I made plans to simplify my life. I stopped buying clothes. I got more creative and made things I needed out of what I already had. My gaze was set on knowing “Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
Then a new roommate moved in. This move required me to share my room, to consolidate, to get rid of stuff- lots of stuff. It is one thing to stop acquiring. It is another to “consider everything a loss,” to actually get rid of things. Don’t get me wrong, the move was my idea. This was part of knowing Christ- of going to a deeper place of community and identifying with our neighbors who have their whole families living in one room. But it turns out I like my stuff. I have pretty things. I have useful things. I have things I may need later. I have things that may come in handy some day for another life I am scheming. I have lots of stuff.
So I moved the stuff from the closet to under the bed to another closet to a shelf. I boxed up the stuff. I took bits of it to the Goodwill. I sold pieces at a garage sale. I shuffled and sorted but I rarely let go. It feels like loss to let it go, even irresponsible. And yet this morning as I look around feeling cramped and needing to breathe, I wonder why I want this stuff. What is it about the stuff that makes me hang on? What is it about me that won’t consider it rubbish?
And it’s not just about the stuff. It’s about the space. My room is huge. The closet is big. There’s a lot of floor space and a sitting area and my queen bed. It is so big in fact that my new roommate moved her queen bed in the same room. Two queen beds. Two women. No more floor space. No more sitting area. There is simply no more space for all this stuff. There is no more space to store up for an imaginary life to come. There is no more space to throw things I don’t want to deal with. There is no more space to hide. Before the move, my roommates and I looked around the house, looked at each other and asked, “Where are we going to go to cry?” There is no more space to hide.
Together we recognize that the very thing we long for- to be known and loved in a caring community- means vulnerability and not hiding. It means hearing each other snore and crying in front of each other. So we are taking steps into this life together. We are stripping ourselves of stuff we have held onto. And as I give up my own stuff I realize that I haven’t really lost much at all. Now instead of one really cool antique chair, we have two. And I sit in both. This morning I was lamenting the loss of a pair of shoes and my new roommate broke out an amazing pair of boots for me to wear. I gave away my bowls and my roommate has the set I’ve looked at in magazines for years. Now I eat my breakfast out of them.
A couple of Saturdays ago, after our “where do we cry” discussion, one roommate and I sat at the kitchen table catching up on the week. We chatted and drank coffee and the conversation slowly spiraled into deeper topics until we were both sharing from our heart and crying, even weeping as the pain of life boiled over. As we listened and comforted one another our earlier conversation came to mind and the answer was clear: now we cry in the kitchen. All I thought would be loss, I have gained- beautiful stuff, sweet intimacy, a grace to be me and to love others for who they are. With no extra stuff and no space to hide, now we cry in the kitchen.
Crissy Brooks MIKA CDC, Costa Mesa, CA