Relig-ish: Curating Faith


Catie, curating her tiny things collection to make space for what matters most.

Listen, I want to tell you something.

Building a spirituality that fits is not that hard.

Stepping away from the the tribe of your youth, that’s hard. Leaving the place that no longer fits — the church, or the temple, or the meditation group — that is tremendously hard. Your family is there, and your friends. Your education might be rooted there, and possibly your career. Your beliefs live there (or they used to), and the creed was your compass. It’s hard to change your relationship with those big, established things in your life. It’s a psychic stretch.

Not the good yoga kind of stretch. The “it gets worse before it gets better” physical therapy kind of stretch.

But once you get out, and shake off the cobwebs, and catch your breath a little…well, then you can look around. Then you can rebuild.

This leaving and rebuilding makes me think of my youngest. She is a collector. She especially likes to collect “tiny things,” which over time coat the floor of her room like so many seashells after the tide has left the shore. Eventually, she has to clean her room.

When her once-cozy room becomes dis-functional, I tell her she must be a curator.

A curator chooses the best pieces from amongst many good things. She deliberately shapes the story she is telling by editing. Some things go in storage. Others are placed in the spotlight. Some pieces she sets aside willingly. Others are tucked away with a melancholy reluctance. A few pieces she keeps in the collection simply because of the memories they hold. Others she features very prominently, because they are so central to her tale.

When I ask my daughter to curate the things she has collected, she resists. Having all her most familiar things around her helps her feel safe. What if she gets rid of something and she needs it tomorrow? What if she misses this thing or that when it is gone? But eventually the things she’s gathered around her begin to lose their purpose. She cannot play with them if they are lost in the shuffle. She cannot use them if they are broken. If she is to enjoy her passion for collecting, the collection itself must be thinned.

Eventually she gives in and clears out the items that are no longer serving her. Some are put in a keepsake box. Some are passed on to someone else who can use them better. And some are released forever.

And then? Well, then she has space.

Space to kneel before her dollhouse and rearrange the way they live.
 Space to erect a glorious building out of the Legos that were rescued from the clutter.
 Space to spread out the long roll of drawing paper and create a new world.

These things come to her without strain, without effort, because she made space.

If you make space, new things will come to you. Things that work. Things you enjoy. Things that fill your life not with clutter and discord, but with beauty and openness and color and joy.

What if you made space? What would you create if you let go of the religious practices that were no longer serving you? What if you curated your faith?

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Relig-ish is a new series at Magpie Girl dedicated to exploring a new kind of faith. Come along with us as we help each other find a spirituality that fits. Click hereto read all the Relig-ish posts, and join the mailing list for additional musings on this (re)construction project. Thanks for being here today. Much Warmth, Rachelle

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This article is cross-posted from Roots of She, where I am part of the writing tribe along with a group of fabulous, soulful women. Come on by!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

chel May 23, 2011 at 9:01 am

This is both brilliant and beautiful- thank you! I plan on spending the summer “making space” in my life. I know it will be a learning process, but it’s really time. Thank you for the spark!

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monsterpants May 23, 2011 at 9:59 am

Rachelle, I can’t tell you how inspiring this post is (the entire Relig-ish series, actually). I’m mostly speechless, but wanted to tell you that your insight is really provoking all kinds of good thought in me, so thank you!

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keishua May 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm

I just spent the past few hours talking with my friend about the “church”. You know there are many things that I love about it but what I need most from it, I can never seem to find there. Thought provoking series.

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Rachelle May 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Thank you for all your heartfelt comments. I feel honored that you would each share your path with me.

This series is the foundation for some course offerings that are coming up in the Fall. (Sort of a Relig-ish Core Course, Part I and II) I feel I’ve truly stepped into a significant calling here. I’m excited to see who gathers!

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Susi May 25, 2011 at 9:47 am

Hi Rachelle, sorry for commenting off-topic but I didn’t find where to comment… I just linked up on your Small is beautiful page.. great idea, I love it! It said to comment after linking up but I didn’t know where… sorry about that:(

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Louise May 26, 2011 at 4:21 am

Thank you for this Rachelle. I am shifting in this way at present – shaking off old assumptions that haven’t delivered, but really struggling to believe that is ok. The thing is all my experiences that fall outside the box of my churched expectations seem so much more compassionate and grace-filled. And in the end I want to go with grace.

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Lala May 27, 2011 at 10:45 am

I adore this metaphor of curating our lives. I don’t think I have ever imagined it quite that way before.
ALSO – I really like the way you take Kate’s fears and concerns about her collection as legitimate. I have such a tendency to tell myself to shape up and to not allow myself all of the feelings that curating brings up.
Good words you got here Rachelle.

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