Over the years, the Diocese of Dunedin has changed the Episcopal residence a few times, and at every trade and exchange, the house has got a bit smaller. We will be carrying on this proud tradition by moving into our own house sometime in the next month or two. The official episcopal palace in Mosgiel is a nice enough place but we'd prefer the novelty of paying our own mortgage and of planting a garden that isn't going to be handed over to a non gardening successor and a committee of blokes with chainsaws in a decade's time.
We bought our little house in Glenfinnan Place, Anderson's Bay about 3 years ago with the intention of retiring there some day. Who knows? We may still. But in the meantime, it will serve us very nicely and the fact that it is really just a three bedroom town house is part of its appeal. Anglican bishops have long since ceased to be princes of the Church and it's time to remove any vestige of pretence that they are still. Time, perhaps, to remove some of the detritus of church, and allow the Gospel beneath to emerge into the light. Anyway, it's a modest house, but a comfortable one, with unpredictable architecture, lots of leaves around it and a view. What more could anyone want?
And moving into a house which is perhaps a third of the size of our present one does force us to think through our attitude to possessions. For the last few days we have been going from room to room making piles of stuff to get rid of. Today I made what will probably be the first of many trips to the landfill. The trailer was piled with stuff. Stuff that someone had once desired and chosen and paid for. Stuff that had been shown off and displayed and delighted in. Glass and metal and plastic and wood, all shaped by someone paid to shape it and carried to my house by an ingenious system of transport and supply. Stuff that no-one ever really needed and no-one was ever going to miss. Soon, some will go to an op shop, but today it was the real crud: I took a kleensack full of broken cameras and lenses, several banana boxes of pottery and a plastic bag full of the little bits and pieces that come with cell phones. There was also thirty years of old diaries, bad poetry from my 20s and the first chapters of half a dozen unwritten novels. It felt good to be rid of it; so good that tonight I went through my bookshelves and removed a couple of hundred volumes... well... I know, percentage wise it's not a very impressive cull but, hey! it's a start!
Identifying what is really needed and ditching the rest. It's a lesson I learned with some force on the Camino, and one that I think will serve me well in the coming years.