I was asked recently to write a piece for our church newsletter. Since many of us are in a season of celebration, and it's the Winter Solstice, I decided to rework it a bit and share it with you. No preaching, just some musing. :)
This strange, unsettling year has provided new perspectives on how we all utilize space, and what our surroundings can mean for us. Whether it's six feet of social distance in a store, or maneuvering with and around partners/kids/pets as we work and learn from home, we've had to adapt in ways big and small. We see through our Zoom windows into the homes of coworkers, or clients, or fellow volunteers. These views are not unusual for me - I see personal space all the time, although right now, it's all from a screen. But I know that for many, reactions to seeing the areas that colleagues or acquaintances occupy has ranged from fascination to dismay to discomfort. These are supposed to be the places we can let our guard down, not invite our doctor or new boss into. The boundaries are blurred and confusing, and comparisons creep in based upon what we see.
But when do we actually feel into our most intimate surroundings and do some deep reflection on what they mean for us? Someone wiser than me once mused that the state of our rooms is a reflection of the state of our minds. Einstein supposedly famously said, "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?" (I always think: it's not an empty desk, Albert, it's a clear one).
What about our rooms and closets and cabinets, and the state of our souls? I'm going to go out on a different limb of my tree here with some thoughts. I'm a fan of Richard Rohr, the author, spiritual writer, and Franciscan friar based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was reading one of his morning meditations* recently and struck by these words: "Whenever the material and the spiritual coincide, there is the Christ." I totally get that he wasn't talking about praying over cluttered countertops or Pinterest-worthy pantries. Still, I believe the material and the spiritual coincide in many ways that we routinely ignore. Whether you're Christian, or Buddhist, or Pagan - or something else, or nothing at all (or all three) - there's something to consider in the way we put together and connect our stuff to our spirits.
The pandemic has given so many the time and inspiration to dig into the whole decluttering thing. I'm a fan, of course, but as I've written before the decision-making piece can throw a wrench into the process. Many of us organizing pros have those nifty questions that people like to use to make decisions about stuff. Questions like:
Those questions are all fine as far as they go, but I think we can take it further. You might remember the one I like to ask: "Does that _______ make you more successful with who you want/are meant to be?" There's often a long pause after I pose it. Success is so individualized and goes to the core of who we are, and worth pondering. Maybe we're not entirely sure what we want to be, and maybe we should take a look at that. Another good one could be, "Who or what else might be successful if you let go of that _______?" Sometimes it's easier to think about making a difference for someone else first. Whatever works, to get the ball rolling.
When you go to plow through the flotsam and jetsam on your desk, which items cultivate success for you and which ones drag you down? Which spaces uplift you, make it easy for you to be you? What in your surroundings sparks not only joy, but peace, purpose, and gratitude? Because organizing and decluttering may not just be about getting rid of some outgrown clothing or toys in advance of receiving more -- but perhaps about where your material and spiritual coincide, making the space to step into a fuller, more authentic self.
Wishing you a peaceful season, however you celebrate. See you next year.
*Rohr, Richard. "The DNA of Creation." December 6, 2020. https://cac.org/the-dna-of-creation-2020-12-06/.
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, dog-lover, author. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?