"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Coat Closet's Call to Repentance

2015 has found me de-cluttering. Before the year began, I came across an online 365-day plan which would have me clutter free before the end of the year -- in only 15 minutes a day. The entire month of January has found me cleaning out my kitchen. It began with sorting through the now old Christmas cards, throwing away old pot holders, donating multiple cheese slicers, Pyrex and coffee makers ... one drawer or cabinet at the time. And each Saturday finds my husband and me at our local Abba House Thrift Store -- a ministry that supports women and their children.

But before I began disassembling the shamble on the shelves, there was already a portion of my home that was causing me discomfort. My coat closet. It actually started several years ago when I read that the early Christians went so far as to say that if I have two coats, I have stolen from the poor. Surely they drew their conclusions from Luke 3:11 where John the Baptist tells his disciples, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none." But the writer went on to say that when we give to a beggar, "we should get on our knees and ask for forgiveness because we are returning what was wrongfully stolen from that person." When read, that's a hard one to forget. And I never have.

With the arctic air that found itself pushing down on us southerners, I could no longer pretend I didn't hear the cry of the beggar. It only grew louder as the temperatures plunged lower. And I knew I was a thief. And I needed to beg for forgiveness.

I opened the door to the closet in the hall and what I saw should have appalled anybody. Not 2 coats. Not 5 coats. Not even 10 coats. But a closet jammed smack full of all kinds of different outerwear. Yes, my husband and I were (and are still) quite guilty of robbing from the poor. All we had to do was look in our coat closet.

Actually, there was an assortment. For my husband, there were some vests, some hunting gear and work jackets thrown in the mix of just plain coats. As for me, mine tended to be more "color" oriented. Black, blue (dark and light), tan, brown, green, lavender. There were "Sunday" coats, casual, and one for every possible climate. And surely that black floor length will come back in style some day. 

There was Columbia, Barbour, Chico, London Fog, L.L. Bean -- just to name a few. Each one issuing forth a strong call to repentance. 

Granted, it's not just coats. Basil of Caesarea touched on a number of areas when he wrote, "When someone steals a person's clothes, we call him a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to those who need it; the shoes rotting in your closet to the one who has no shoes. The money which you hoard up belongs to the poor."

My coat closet isn't as full as it once was; but it is nowhere near empty either. Might have been easier if John had mentioned how many to give away if we had 30 instead of just 2. But he didn't. All I know is that at this point, there are still a number of people weathering the winter without.

It's quite the call to repentance.

What about you? Got a coat ... or two?

Just an ordinary moment...