Shredding as Preparation

Christmas in Florida.

I used to dread it. The Christmas Season is supposed to be cold, snowing, warm coats and gloves.

When the kids were young they had grandparents in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Always a struggle as to where to spend the holidays.

Time has passed. Christmas is balmy weather,blue skies, sometimes nightly rain. Dogs and cats run around the house and green grass.

Starting on Friday, we begin cleaning out closets, garages, sheds. Getting ready for a new year and a new life. Making straight the pathway to ....?

And, we are shredding.

Websters On-line Dictionary states that the word shred dates from before the 12th century derived from the Middle English shrede, from Old English scrēade; akin to Old High German scrōt meaning a piece cut off.

According to Wikipedia, the first paper shredder is credited to Abbot Augustus Low, an inventor from Horseshoe, New York. His patent for a “waste paper receptacle” offered an improved method of disposing of waste paper. However, his invention was never manufactured.

Adolf Ehinger's paper shredder, based on a hand-crank pasta maker, was manufactured in 1935 in Germany. Supposedly he needed to shred his anti-Nazi propaganda to avoid the inquiries of the authorities. Later, he marketed his shredders to government agencies and financial institutions converting from hand-crank to electric motor. His company, EBA Maschinenfabrik, manufactured the first cross-cut paper shredders in 1959 and continues to do so to this day as EBA Krug & Priester GmbH & Co.

The U.S. embassy in Iran used strip-cut paper shredders to reduce paper pages to strips before the embassy was taken over in 1979 After Colonel Oliver North told Congress that he used a Schleicher Intimus 007 S cross-cut model to shred Iran-Contra documents, sales for that company increased nearly 20 percent in 1987.

Until the mid-1980s, it was rare for paper shredders to be used by non-government entities. However, after the 1984 Supreme Court decision in California vs. Greenwood, in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the 4th Amendment does not prohibit the warrant less search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside of a home, paper shredders became more popular among US citizens with privacy concerns. Anti-burning laws, concern over landfills, industrial espionage, and identity theft concerns created greater demand for paper shredding.

To shred or not to shred? That is the question.

Anything that had a name, address, social security or account number on it. Into the machine. What comes out is not recognizable as her financial past.

A fan blows on the shredder to keep it cool.

I am the Terminator of shredding and the 90's is the decade that meets its demise.

That said, I will begin the same process when I return home. I find it freeing. Those of us that live in the states know that once one year's tax return is filed, we can shred another.

But, why stop at shredding? Need a wall knocked down? Need closets cleaned out? Call me.

But, keep in mind, if it is your stuff, your memories will not affect what is taken to the Clothing Bank, or Goodwill, or the Public Library.

Now, however, my memories will affect the process. I will remember what occurred, good and not so good.

For me, tearing down is so much easier than building up. My process usually allows for a vacuum to remain and who knows what fills it up. I need to be deliberate about what enters the black hole.

And, I should know this. I am a gardener. I never prepare a garden without knowing what is going to be planted. Why prepare if I am not planting. Sowing and reaping.

A friend, preparing for surgery,writes about getting things done, chores that take two. He also writes that while the head makes lists, the body needs to rest, to store up energy, to prepare for the recovery.

Someone else prepares to leave their home to winter in Florida. Someone else prepares to meet a new friend for lunch.

For who, where, or what do you prepare?

Do I?



O day of peace that dimly shines through all our hopes and prayers and dreams,

guide us to justice, truth, and love, delivered from our selfish schemes.

May swords of hate fall from our hands, our hearts from envy find release,

till by God's grace our warring world shall see Christ's promised reign of peace.

(Hymn #597 The 1982 Hymnal Episcopal Church of the USA)

On November 12, I had the opportunity to hear The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson speaking at Christ Church, Dover, Delaware. Bishop Robinson was in the Diocese of Delaware to meet with the clergy and he graciously opened the gathering to laity and other clergy to be in dialog with him.

I had purchased his book In the Eye of the Storm - Swept to the Center by God and was in the first stages of reading it.

In the introduction, Bishop Robinson writes that his Canon to the Ordinary gave him a piece of calligraphy that said:

Sometimes God calms the storm. And sometimes God lets the storm rage and calms his child."

Storms have been raging around me for the past couple of weeks. Lots of personal issues for those with whom I share my life.

Economic fears, traveling fears, relocation of or health concerns for a parent, couples that breakup, memories that intrude from previous Christmases, fears of being alone, fears of dying.

So, why am I so calm? Must be God.

If I were to actually take the time to reflect on what is happening, or what my "tasks" are, it would be a different story.

But I do not. I have become comfortable, for the most part, with "it is what it is"

I play Christmas music, at work, in the car.

I look forward to the emails that speak to The Birth and Promises.

Or, those that pass along the most current Santa and reindeer jokes.

(BTW, the reindeer are reported to be female, since Santa never gets lost, because they will always stop to ask directions.)

I am sending out Christmas cards, but mostly to Sudan.

Do not think that I have buried my head in the snow. I am aware, and I am praying.

Whether it is quiet or noisy, I pray. For all of you.

For those in the storm and for those whose storm has not yet arrived.

For those who made it through the storm and see the Son.

I pray that your burdens become lighter, your relationships more loving, your work more fulfilling.

I pray that your passions can be central in your life.

Finally, I pray that I continue to pray



Standing on the Water

Why do we surround ourselves with houses and big cars
And try to make out we've got it made
When nothing really belongs to us we're only passing through
We're all a part of a masquerade

When we're standing in the water
Talking to the wall
Making so much matter that's of no matter at all (Andy Fairweather Low)

This past weekend, I was listening to NPR, sitting at home, sidelined by my doctor.

Across the airways came a voice that sounded so familiar. I could not channel surf. I wanted to know who it was. Which male singer was making me pause?

Dang. Richie Havens. A blast from the past, and not an Arctic blast, but more a warm summer breeze. What a voice.

The name of the CD is No one Left to Crown. Not new tunes, but some that are familiar and when re-recorded, take on new meanings.

Not just because over 35 years has passed, but because 35 years have passed.

Life has happened.

Life is still happening.

A struggle to keep in the present, not to wonder what might come next.

Living with someone younger is an adventure.

While I am divesting of stuff, she is gathering.

What leaves my closets goes nto hers. Round and around we go. I have to sneak things out to Goodwill and The Clothing Bank.

There are doubles and triples of so many utensils, pots and pans. Clutter to me, cookware to her.

Food not the same, sleep patterns not the same. Hard to believe that we are related.

This is cycle of life stuff. We come in with nothing and forget, walking store to store, that we leave with nothing.

Except a closet full of life's experiences.

Think of it, donating and recyling our experiences. Head to the local "Experience Bank" . Stock up on a cruise to Alaska, a marriage that lasts a lifetime, a parent that lives to 100, another college degree, president of the US.

Or, sit with the homeless, sick, or hungry. Be a single parent, a stepbrother or sister, or someone living with mental or physical illness.

Store Opens at 8 AM.