I did some closet cleaning a couple of days ago. Was that one of my “resolutions?” I don’t know about that, but it certainly needed doing. Closet cleaning is not an event that I, nor I would think anyone, yearn for with great anticipation; however, often once I am in the process I find it to be quite “cleansing.” If I am not careful, I can easily revert back to some “old ways” of holding on to stuff and things and find myself overwhelmed. In relationship to stuff and things I have tried to establish a standard. If I have not worn it or used it in two years, I don’t need it. Why on earth do I still have it?
I begin by pulling out all sorts of stuff and things and creating an absolute mess. Hey, I thought I was cleaning? In the pulling out process I ask several questions about each piece of stuff. First the two-year standard question, then if I don’t need it, could it be useful to someone else? Remember one man’s trash could be another man’s treasure, or, more to the point, another’s shirt on his back. So, there is a pile designated Goodwill or one of the many other benevolent “clothes closets” in our community. There is a pile for trash – it is worn out, does not work, or otherwise totally useless. Then there is the pile for “sentiment” things. You know, the stuff and things that memories are made of – that was so special at that time or place, blah, blah, blah. Can I bear to throw it away? As if throwing it away would erase the memory and its meaning! Really??
So I pulled out, sorted, piled and tossed stuff and things for several hours. The results, not counting my aching back, were more usable space, more order, a sense of accomplishment, and the added bonus of finding some things I had been looking for and some things that I had forgotten I had. Which brings me back to the question if I had forgotten I had them, do I really need them? Probably not!
So, what’s the connection between closet cleaning and our spiritual journey? Well, as I see it, and I don’t always see things clearly, pulling out, sorting through, and determining what to do with our stuff and things can be a grand opportunity to take stock of where we’ve been on our journey, how where we’ve been has impacted us, and where we might be headed currently. Also, stuff and things are often associated with experiences, relationships, and feelings. Did I say emotional baggage? Perhaps, emotional closets would be a more appropriate expression since we are talking about closet cleaning. Do I need to hang on to that old hurt? Is this grudge I continue to carry around helping me now? Yes, that was a wonderful time then, but do I want to spend today and the future dwelling on the past? Yes, I made a mistake at that time. Isn’t it time, now, to stop beating myself up about it? You get the point. Time to clean out all the emotional stuff and things that hinder, hurt, burden, confuse, distort, and distract us from living in the fullness of who we were created to be. Time to clear the chaos and bring in some order. Time to make room for the joy, hope, love, happiness, and, yes, the sorrow, disappointment, and struggle of each new day.
So, how is your closet? Is it time for some closet “cleansing?” Yes, it requires some effort, and the results are well worth the effort – in my opinion.