I am currently watching a series on animal hoarding. Each episode begins with the caution “Animal hoarding is normally not addressed until it becomes a crime”. Would that there was such a sign hanging over our morning coffee-maker which read “Reality hoarding is normally not addressed until it becomes a spiritual crime!” What seems to be common to all of the animal hoarders is that they have good intentions in dealing with the animals, that they “mean well.” What becomes clear as each episode progresses is that meaning well has not been sufficient! The therapeutic process that each hoarder must go through is to see what results their intentions have actually produced and then to accept responsibility for the harm and hurt that those intentions have actually caused.
So… what does this have to do with living a spiritual life? Common to all hoarding is that hoarders do not let go, that they hold on even while slowly dying and disappearing within their hoard! At some point the hoard reaches a “critical mass” where the hoarder becomes oblivious to what is actually going on… and that is the purpose of hoarding: to make us oblivious to Life’s demands upon us! A hoarder hugs tightly. All of us… hoarders and non-hoarders alike… have realities of our inner lives which we refuse to deal with. Why do we think that it is all right for us to ignore the painful and discomforting hoard of our lives, slowly letting ourselves become disabled until our heart and our lives have become immobilized?
Our lives would be better served were we to follow the Hawaiian approach to dealing with reality… spiritual and otherwise. Hawaiians have an understanding that we are guests in the Garden of the Divine, that we may use anything in the Garden so long as we respectfully ask permission and so long as the results of that use are also respectful. We must keep in mind that when we leave the Garden we should leave a Paradise in which others also might live and love and grow. The Hawaiian understanding is that the Garden of Reality is about caretaking and passing on, not about hugging, holding onto, or possessing. The Garden is like Hā, the breathe of Life: It is entrusted to us by the Divine so that we might give it away to others.
Caretaking requires attention. Caretaking requires dealing with the weeds lest they take over the whole garden! At our own spiritual peril we ignore the reality of how we live and the results produced by that living! We all would do well to accept the Hawaiian approach of dealing with reality, of respectfully interacting with it and being aware that we will somehow and somewhere be held responsible for the quality of the realities that we leave to others. In other words, some day we will have to account for either our caretaking, or our hoarding.