Thursday, July 7, 2011

On Rearranging Furniture

Sometimes I need a fresh perspective. I could ask someone's opinion. I could do more research. I could change my routine. But none of those steps quite measure up to simply rearranging the furniture. It's a common joke at our house. I love to bait my husband when he checks in from his office, asking me "What have you done today?" When I answer slyly with "You won't believe it" he moans and asks, "The furniture again?" I laugh and say he will have to wait - important inner work is being done.
It is especially gratifying when the new look comes across better than I had thought. I can study and study a room when there seems to be no other way to place the furniture. Then I see it with my mind's eye and wonder why it never dawned on me before. It makes perfect sense. I feel comfortable in my space with have more energy. And to top it off, the dog is thrilled that his lost toys have been uncovered.
Sarah Ban Breathnach says in her book Simple Abundance, "Never assume that the people in your life, especially those closest to you, won't innocently meddle in your internal affairs while you're on the path to authenticity. The predictable person they know is more familiar than the woman they don't know, even if she's the real you." Sometimes rearranging the furniture a safe way to move along that path to authenticity.
Life's inner work is rearranged in a similar fashion. Over the years we have had the good fortune to stay in one place and much of our space is predictable and routine. As someone often reminds me by saying, "I like old things that still work." Don't we all. I recently made the comment to a friend that we have had the same living room sofa for 35 years. She said, "Well, of course, but how many times have you recovered it?" The table became silent when I had to answer , "none." It forced me to reconsider all the reasons why I " keep the old things that still work." Certainly, I'm grateful. But sometimes the old ways don't work anymore and change is inevitable. The cat shreds the sofa fabric or a table leg breaks. So we move it around, replace, paint, throw away, switch out a lamp or buy a new shade. If we are lucky, it could be something as simple as lowering the wattage of a lamp or moving a chair to the window for the morning light. Fresh perspectives will take hold if we notice that some work needs to be done.
Once the process gets started, it often moves from room to room and before you realize it, you have moved into a whole new phase in your life. Clutter is cleared and the old is given away. There is space to grow in healthier ways. You look around and somehow a whole new color scheme has transformed and enlivened. Simplicity abounds. Inner work is making progress.
We know when it is time for a fresh perspective. God points to the clock, nudging us to get the inner self moving along toward work, peace and productivity. And we choose how the productivity will, or will not, be played out. We must try out new ways, re-arrange, seek new solutions and welcome change. King Solomon summed it up in Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, A Time for Everything
"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven ~
2 A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up.
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
5 A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.
6 A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak.
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace.
9 What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. 11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one's lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor, it is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him. 15 That which is has been already, and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by."