Clutter & Conflicts of Interest

Is life nothing more than a battle against acquisition and the resulting clutter? This is the question that greets me as I enter the bathroom after critiquing a church member’s essay for his doctoral studies and posting today’s blog on Wit instead of resurrection.

I keep my gaze on the mirror as I floss, hoping to avoid the ubiquity of things not, coincidentally, strewn across the countertop. The items are for the most part neatly arranged. There is a jewelry tree, a basket whose handle, trimmed with hair clasps, contains smallish items I use more or less each day or that need finishing. Then, there is the  oblong, white ceramic tray, the latest addition/attempt to organize the clutter. It holds, in height order, facial cleanser, toner, perfume, perfume, perfume. Three bottles of it in varying shapes and shades of clear glass. The shortest, is a flatish, rounded bottle of Estee Lauder’s Sensuous. The one following, is a rectangular, cool, perhaps celery green bottle from Bath and Body, containing a fragrance they identify as Green Tea. The next one, that runs into the face stuff, is a tall square bottle in a saturated, though see-through purple, eggplant, really, full – or nearly so – of Sexy by Victoria Secret.

The jewelry tree refuses to disappear as I move from flossing to brushing and then to circular motions with cleanser and brush from cheek to cheek. It has over time become quite overgrown with accessories. Earrings and bangles, silk flowers and necklaces dangle from its graceful branches.

Choice, it appears, is the order of the day but I would be as content as my imagination says that Girl With Pearl Earring is in that Rembrandt. Apparently, she is / was ‘no more’ than someone’s servant. Yet to me, in that turban, and sizeable pear-shaped pearl earring, her countenance, completely free of wrinkles and therefore unreadable, is to me something to which one aspires – inscrutable they call it when degrading folk of Asian extraction. I find it a compliment even if otherwise intentioned.

Who, after all, needs more of anything she didn’t want in the first place? What good is choice to someone who appraises it slightly? Long fingernails are sometimes pretty but they always get in the way of typing when found at the tips of my fingers. I realize that the absence of choice doesn’t make for a perfect world either. Had I a choice, my parents would still be living. Had I a choice, God and I would already be on (consistently conscious, on my part) inseparable terms. Though I realize Oswald Chambers cautions us that childlike trust is the furthest thing from self-conscious.

I write all this to avoid saying that it may be juvenile, stunted or self-ish but I do not want to use my writing/teaching gifts in church because I seem wholly incapable of separating the interests that seem in conflict. I don’t like it when people (or I imagine people…) avoid me because of the feedback they’ve asked for and received from me about their writing. I don’t want to have to compartmentalize them so I may worship freely, and I have no intention of leaving the good-ground church where I’ve been planted. So help me, Jesus. How do I proceed?

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