Next week, the parish staff and I are engaging in ~*PuRgE dAy*~, an event the staff can tell you I have been excited about since we put it on the calendar a month or so ago. As with families who have been in the same house for a long time, our parish has numerous closets, spaces, and even rooms that have filled items no longer in active use. No space starts like this, of course. First an individual or group claims a room and uses it actively, keeping it organized and useful. But then that individual or group loses motivation, gets distracted, or even moves away or becomes defunct. The space is no longer actively used, new things get added without being organized, the stuff in the back gets forgotten entirely, and eventually the space becomes chaotic and unusable. Of the many things I would like to accomplish while I am here at Assumption, cleaning out all of our closets is pretty high on my list of desires. [Preach the Gospel, of course, love people, AND CLEAN CLOSETS. The third great commandment.] And this week is the first step in achieving that dream!
Specifically, we will be cleaning out the basement of the church, which is currently a mix of decades-old liturgical items (think 80s, 90s, maybe 00’s) and Harvest Festival decorations and supplies. With no concrete plans to bring back the Harvest Festival, it does not make sense to hold on to all of the decorations out of a sense of nostalgia. And many of the liturgical items are things like ribbon banners and amateur-made items which do not fit our current liturgical aesthetics. So we are going to reclaim the basement space (which is so near to our flower sacristy) for many of the liturgical decorations that we do use, which have ended up in the old choir room in the bell tower (making them very difficult to access). After the basement, maybe the St. Jude room in the gym. After the St. Jude room, probably the basement of the parish office building. After the basement of the office, maybe the WORLD!! All of that said, I am hyper aware of the importance of remembering our history. I recently cleaned out a few boxes of files in the pastor’s office that went back almost 20 years, and through it all I knew that I should keep anything that showed the growth and change in our parish, the different decisions we made and events we held, the pieces of paper that gave a glimpse into how Christ has been working in Bellingham since before some of us were born. The same is true when I clean out a space: it takes a lot of work because we have to evaluate every item, rather than throw them into the dumpster indiscriminately. I am very proud of this community and I love learning about its history, and I try very hard not to jeopardize that. Just like the faith itself, in our history we have been given a gift of which we are stewards, not masters. Even as we might go in new directions, where we came from always matters.
 I know people may be sad to hear this, but church communities are not the center of peoples’ social lives like they once were, sadly. We are struggling to find someone to organize Coffee and Donuts. Given that, imagine how hard it is to find someone to organize and run an entire Community Fair.