Vol 7 No. 12 Responses from “Cleaning and Gleaning”

Dear Folks,

A recent newsletter, “Cleaning and Gleaning, Vol. 7, No. 6” (https://www.cbwc.ca/content/view/3404/234/) elicited several comments.  Four comments, which were emailed to me, are represented here.  They are wonderfully creative responses.  I am sure we all have stories to tell of our experience of this process and many more to come!

From Don Anderson, an experience of shedding what we value

Jeremy, I appreciated your blog about stuff.  Of course we can be very poetic and virtuous about getting rid of stuff, but it is the things we value that pose the challenge.

I have never forgotten, shortly after I began as Senior Pastor at Olivet when I had a visit from Privine Mugdill who had gone to West Point Grey Baptist when I was there as moderator, and was a great friend of Paul and Gail Stevens.  Privine had attended Regent, and went back to India to settle in working for India Rail. I can’t remember why he came back to Canada, but there he was sitting in my office.  There were no pleasantries to start: he looked around my office and looked directly at me and said “You love your books more than Jesus.”  The remainder of the conversation was rather limp; we had coffee and he left, but the challenge was there.  That little office was lined on three sides with theological books I had accumulated long before I started at Regent, and of course filled up while at Regent, with the two key instructions–“1. Remember, you might be called to Pouce Coupe. 2. Always buy commentaries” (the first came from fellow students, the second from Ward Gasque.)

“You love books more than you love Jesus.”  That hits you.  And it forced me to reconsider my addiction to owning books (as opposed to borrowing them.)  I had always believed that books breed on the shelves at nighttime, but in fact I lived in used bookstores and cheaper stores than Regent.  Of course one could write off the cost at income tax time, but that simply intensified the challenge about what (or who) I loved best.  Not just stuff–that would have been no problem for a guy whose wish for a car was a VW Beetle. But books, that gets you in the gut.

I have given away almost all my theological books in three waves: when I retired from Olivet I donated all the books our little library at Olivet wished to take.  And I can drop by and read some of my old catalogued books still, whenever I want to.  Then, when I retired from the Area Ministry, I invited all Baptist pastors in the area to drop by and take any books they wished (except a small set, mainly critical commentaries etc. that I wished to keep.)  But the books kept breeding particularly when I was reviewing books for The Canadian Baptist and teaching as a sessional lecturer at Regent.  Finally several years ago I faced the bookshelves and decided I must take action.  I invited any student at Carey or Regent, and any pastors in the area to drop by my house and take what they wanted–free.  About 1000 books went out the door that time, though the students were startled–“what are you going to do without them?” (Did they think I would commit suicide? Or I was defecting to Scientology?) My answer was that they were very good friends–some heavily marked up, all read.  And I wanted them to find new homes. I shall never forget watching one young man walk away with Barth’s Church Dogmatics–he was delighted.  I felt sad for I had never preached without having looked up to see if Barth had a comment on the text.

It was like performing the wedding of your daughters.  And after two weeks I was left with a small one Ikea Billy bookcase of a single favored commentary on each book in the Bible as well as a number of thank you cards from students.  And I felt good about it.  Had I answered Privine’s question?  He never came back from India to ask.  And perhaps, like pushing heroin, I had passed the addiction on to others–ah well, never challenge motives. But the day the students drove across town and poured into my basement and looked over the shelved books and asked me questions about the author, why I bought it, and then took a book. . . I felt emancipated from something and I felt very, very good.

Not mere stuff. . . what I treasured, even more than Jesus.


From Rev. Jo-Ann Matiachuk, the current Lenten Devotional Series presenter for Carey Institute, an experience in downsizing and transition

Thanks Jeremy for your encouragement to clean so others might glean.

We have just finished a move – downsizing from our family size home to a smaller townhouse now that our children have gone.  It was hard but necessary – and in the process I found a number of wonderful organizations to give furniture, garden tools, building materials, clothing, and other goods to.

Habitat for Humanity – ReStore – they take tools, building materials, planters, and assorted appliances etc.  They will re-sell them and use the proceeds for HH projects.  Their store in Vancouver is off SE Marine Way on 69th.
HomeStart – we gave lots of furniture to them
Big Brothers – takes clothing, etc

Developmental Disabilities Association of BC: takes small knick-knacks, countertop appliances, linens, books, etc.  Has a pick-up service

We were also able to give some things to a rehabilitation house for those in recovery.

Far from missing any of this stuff I sense an increase in freedom.  I am ready to give away more as we unpack our myriads of boxes that we still have.

Thanks for a helpful encouragement.

From Betty Smith, an experience of gleaning

Good thoughts, Jeremy.  Bill and I actually spent an afternoon gleaning last September.  Our neighbours, a Hutterite Colony, grow a large field of potatoes every year, mostly for their own use, but also for sale to the community.  They harvest them with a machine which drops anything less than 3 inches diameter.  We go out most years when they have finished and glean a truckload of wonderful potatoes that we then share with others in our church and community.  Our Hutterite neighbours encourage us to do this.  We actually use very few of them ourselves because we grow most of our own vegetables, including potatoes.

From Shelby Gregg,  an experience in traveling light

Last year, I had the chance to take some time off work, and head to Europe for three months. For three months, I left all my stuff behind at home, and lived out of a backpack with a few clothes, a couple pair of shoes, a few guidebooks, a small laptop, a camera, a journal, and a few other bits and pieces.  When I was packing, I had read tips from others about packing light, and wondered how I could do so and live for 3 months. How would I get by without x or y or z?


But, a few days in and I didn’t miss anything from home, and didn’t feel in need. When I wanted a new towel, I bought a new one. When I was tired of my clothes, I donated the old ones and bought new ones (in new colours). When I wanted a new book, I traded with someone else on the road, or traded for one at a second hand book store. I was able to live within the 10 kilos on my back comfortably, without stress and worry, without a need to get more. Each time I wanted something, I thought to myself “Do I need this? Do I want to carry it around as I get lost in Florence, as I look for my hostel at the top of the long hill in Fort William, as I run through the streets in the rain in Dublin to catch my train?” Most often, the answer was no. It was great to spend my money on the experiences, and live low key.  It freed me both physically and mentally



In Christ,