Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Whew! Having no stuff takes the stuffing out of you!

This is Week Two in Saskatoon Shines (TM) - I got 4 1/2 kids here in 5 days, and it's now day 13 since our departure and our stuff is... in Calgary. Yes, our worldly possessions have yet to catch up with us, and so we still occupy a (to us) gargantuan house that is mostly empty space. This has taught us a few lessons:

  1. No matter how loud we think our children are, they are louder in an echo-y cavernous room. We also have these neat little 7/8ths walls that don't go up to the ceiling - very bright, very airy, very loud even when you send the kids into the other room.
  2. Saskatchewan people are amazingly friendly. Our neighbours, met on day 1 and 2 of our arrival, have lent us:
    • portable DVD player and a stack of kids' movies
    • soccer ball
    • puzzle, game, books, colouring
    • lawn mower with a full can of gas
    • amazing bran muffins "we were just making anyway...once we borrowed flour..."
    • lawn chairs (a substantial portion of our current furniture stock)
    • the offer of a two-inch hose and submersible pump to empty our hot tub
    • a folding plastic table I use as a desk
  3. Having no stuff, rather than being simple, is actually quite complicated. You can cook meals with one pot, one pan and a baking sheet. But not an enormous variety of meals. You can sleep on an air mattress, even if you're pregnant, and even if you are sharing with 3 other siblings, but a week and a half of it does not result in greater restfulness. And just sitting down for a change was nice after a few days of zero chairs. This makes dining on the floor a continual occurrence. We packed clothes for a 4-day trip. It's now two weeks of living out of backpacks, and I used my shirt to mop the floor today. We went to the pool, with 3 towels for 6 people. Our current furniture line up:
    • two queen-size air mattresses (floor)
    • two folding lawn chairs, two folding 'church hall' chairs
    • a love seat and easy chair (red velour) passed down for free
    • a plywood student's desk made by my grandfather for my brother twenty years ago
    • a deep freeze purchase by my parents before I was born
    • I suppose I should include the 4 deck chairs lent to us
  4. Even having minimal stuff is even more complicated! Monique has figured out how to care for the hot tub - we never thought we'd have a luxury like that. We have had to figure out central vac, care for hardwood floors, care for stainless steel appliances, automatic sprinkler systems, and trampoline assembly - another luxury Monique and I were happy to provide our children with today. We are painting the kids' rooms colours the kids have chosen - this intense forest green for the girls, and a very cool icy-blue-white for the boys. Keep the floors clean! 
It's weird. We don't really need stuff, but in this new transplanted experience, the lack of stuff has definitely taken its toll. Sometimes we are bored, tripping over each other - it feels the kids have not much to do. On the other hand, we often get in each other's way as the summer gets rolling, and we need to consciously choose a routine to sort ourselves out and make sense of the freedom of summer. We also are forced to entertain each other, get out of the house, try new things, pray for patience, appreciate what we have, trust God with our stuff... and my hunch is that this time without stuff is helping us invest emotionally in the newness of this space, before all the familiar stuff shows up. Maybe as we unpack we will see 'stuff' we no longer need, or we will see old stuff in a new light. Or maybe we'll just unwrap every spoon and pair of socks like it is Christmas all over again, and God can give us all our worldly possessions in a way that we can receive them with grateful hearts, that is, with fuller knowledge of the love with which God gives us stuff.