Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow,
Give us peace beyond our fear, and hope beyond our sorrow.
~ Marty Haugen b. 1950
How is your spring cleaning coming along? Its hard work, isn’t it, and I don’t mean cleaning out closets, cleaning out the inside of cupboards and washing windows and screens. Last week, I wrote about spring cleaning and how this, along with decluttering in order to make more space in homes and our hearts, can be a spiritual discipline and can bring us to simplicity of life. I haven’t progressed very much in making this happen, although, I did put three more shirts in the donate pile, along with some things from the storage room.
Part of the problem, of making getting rid of “stuff” so to make more room for God a spiritual discipline, is that this requires us to do the task prayerfully—a practicing of God’s presence, a mindful process—when we would rather just get the job done. But if living more simply and opening ourselves to God is our main focus for “spring cleaning”, we look at each thing in a different way. Example: The shirts in the donate pile are shirts that I have had for a while and I have worn them many times. They are still in very good shape, but the last several times that I have put them on, I have taken them off right away and worn something else. Somehow, they don’t look right anymore. If I “pay attention” to this, if I am listening, I might find that these three perfectly good shirts are clutter to me but could be life giving to another who is without. They can become gift. And there is so much more in the nooks and crannies of my home.
How do we know what is clutter when it really looks like something else. William Morris, born in the 1800s, was a textile designer, architect, and writer among other things. He once said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” I believe that most useful things should also be beautiful, at least to me. What happens if I have a very functional something, but I see it as ugly? I have a certain brown couch in mind. It feels dark and takes a certain amount of peace from the room. Well, I haven’t come to grips with it yet, but I plan to look at it prayerfully and see what it says. If it stays dark and pulls me down, I’ll need to get rid of it even if I have to stand up. I’m too sedentary anyway.
William Morris also said, “Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.” How much is enough? Jesus told his disciples in Luke 9:3, “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.” We may not travel our journey as lightly as this. Actually, most of us will not, but we can travel lighter than we do now.
Over the next few months—my summer project—I want to go through all my “stuff.” I’ll ask these questions of myself. Why do I keep it? Why do I need it? Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Can this be a gift of life or an object of joy for someone else? If I ever manage to get this all done, with God’s help, and if I can answer these questions, I’m fairly certain that there will be more space and lightness in my home and within me. I may even find simplicity.
May you, also, dear ones.