Spring Cleaning and Spiritual Decluttering
|by C.J. Chase|
If you’ve ever read my bio (available here or in my books), you’ve seen my confession that I was born without a housekeeping gene. This actually isn’t the full story. I do try to maintain and clean and orderly home. The problem is that I’ll often start one project only to realize I need to do something else first, so I start that… At the end of the day, I’ll feel like I have little to show for all the time I spent working. I guess it’s not so much my lack of a housekeeping gene as the presence of housekeeping ADD.
Sometimes my husband (who, I should add, has absolutely no room to talk in this area) would say, “Our house is messy.” And I would respond with, “It’s clean. It’s just cluttered.”
So, after a brutal February where the kids were out of school almost two full weeks because of snow, the warm weather (and, oh, yeah, the knowledge that guests are arriving next week) motivated me to do some spring cleaning. I decided I wanted to be organized in my approach this year, so I started googling until I hit a site with a handy spring-cleaning checklist.
To my surprise, I discovered that my justification comeback (clean, just cluttered) was essentially accurate. I do most of the items on the list—and pretty regularly. (Wash curtains? Check. Wipe baseboards and moldings over doors and windows? Check. Dust ceiling fans? Of course. Launder pillows? It’s just gross not to. Wash windows and screens? Frequently. I hate dirty windows.) Then why does my house feel messy so much of the time even though I seldom bother to put the vacuum cleaner away since I’ll just be getting it out again in a few hours?
Yep. Clutter. I just can’t get a handle on it. And the rest of my family is as bad or worse. At times, (like, when the arrival of company is imminent) I’ve resorted to a “magic box” where I toss in all the accumulated stuff. But part with it? Someday I might need that school paper/magazine/jar/mystery screw/box/coupon/business card/receipt/etc. Furthermore, I love my children. How could I possibly discard the clay turtle, rainbow painting, or indefinable yarn project they bring home from art class? Worse, what if I throw it away and they see it in the trash? They’ll be convinced I hate them, andtherapy is expensive.
As I meditated on this while scrubbing a floor this week, I realized my clean-but-cluttered situation is a metaphor for my spiritual life. My life is relatively “clean.” I’m a pretty moral person. No murder, adultery, or stealing here. I’ve never been charged with a crime. Never even gotten a speeding ticket. You can run my name against any law enforcement database, and I come back clean.
But I continually wage a battle against spiritual clutter—all the “stuff” that fills up time that should belong to God, a minute-by-minute conquest of my day as surely as old mail, a grocery list, son #3’s perfect spelling test, the refrigerator repairman’s phone number, the paper I need to sign for son #2, and a checkbook that needs balanced have appropriated my kitchen table.
Beginning today I'm going to start getting more ruthless with that spiritual clutter, reclaiming a few minutes here, some more time there. Besides, it will be nice change to spend more of that time on my knees having a conversation instead of wielding a scrub brush!