Help, my soul is cluttered!

With Lent fast approaching, here’s a favorite of mine from the archives….

clutter

I hate clutter.  I have it stashed in closets and spare drawers all around my house.  I tackle a pile whenever I have time, but somehow more always seems to accumulate.  One of the great goals of my life is to one day own nothing that I do not truly need, or do not enjoy for its beauty.

Today, I learned that there is a worse place to collect clutter than in your house.  It was during confession this afternoon that Father mentioned to me that we should all try to declutter our souls this Lent, because they are truly the house which God most cares about.  I immediately knew that God was answering my prayers about what I should concentrate on this Lent..

On the way back to my car, it occurred to me that tackling the piles of clutter in my house would be the perfect penance to join with my spiritual decluttering.  As I sort through clothes, photos, vacation mementos, stacks of greeting cards, religious articles which arrive in the mail (and I can’t bear to throw away), etc., I can meditate on the comparisons between household clutter and spiritual clutter.

When clutter is visible in my house, it detracts from the beauty and order of my home. A big stack of mail and catalogs on the kitchen counter is stressful to see. Clutter which I have stashed out of sight still disturbs my peace.  I know it’s there, waiting.  If guests are staying over, I sometimes dash off to the guest room to see if any clutter needs to be removed and reassigned.  🙂

And, there’s always forgotten clutter, like when you open a seldom used cabinet and find a stash of paper napkins and salt and peppers packets from long ago take-out dinners.

Do you ever move clutter from place to place?  I do.  It would be funny if it wasn’t so frustrating.

The bottom line is that no matter how clean my kitchen may be or how sparkling the bathrooms are, the memory of clutter somewhere else never allows me to truly feel like I have everything done and can totally relax.

And, what if I should die suddenly!  Oh my!  Someone else would have to go through all my stuff….maybe even my super clutter-free sister-in-law.  Gasp!

I see so many parallels here to what the clutter of petty faults, neglected duties, self-absorption, concern with the world, time wasted, etc., can wreak in our souls.

All of these things disquiet us, steal our peace and keep us distracted from God.  Just as it is more difficult to relax in a cluttered home, it is also much harder to be with God in solitude and silence in a soul which is littered with “stuff.”

Years ago I used to stop at a church to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. This church had a golden tabernacle, but I was annoyed that it often seemed dusty on top. “How can they allow all of this dust to accumulate on Jesus’ house?”  I would complain to myself.

One day, God seemed to say to me, “I don’t mind that dust nearly as much as I mind the dust on your soul.”    Of course that was true!  I was worrying about dust that mattered little to God, when His Own dwelling place in my soul needed much more attention.

I am going to take an in-depth inventory of my soul this Lent.  I will ask God to show me where the most clutter is hiding, and I’m going to be sure to write it down so that I can remind myself often.  I am not talking so much about sin, but rather more of its underpinnings…those little habits and attractions and distractions which keep us less centered on God.

And, I will also make a list of clutter projects to tackle around the house for the next 40 days….the clutter I’ve been avoiding the longest.

I will ask the Immaculate One to help me with my project.  She, who is without the slightest stain, is the perfect one to clearly see where the overlooked dust and clutter reside in my soul.  I also think she will be happy to help me better organize things here at home.

Yes!  It is time to declutter!  Anyone else out there want to join me?  Spring cleaning for  houses and souls….not in that order!

In her spiritual classic, The Interior Castle, St. Teresa of Avila gives the description of a soul in the state of grace:

It is that we consider our soul to be like a castle made entirely out of a diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in heaven there are many dwelling places.   …..We realize that the soul of the just person is nothing else but a paradise where the Lord says he finds his delight.  (Interior Castle, Chapter 1, no.1.)

I pray that this Easter, our Risen Jesus will  find in your soul…and mine too, a most pure and sparkling diamond in which to dwell!   May His Radiant Light shine clearly in and through us, and out to the whole world!

 

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22 thoughts on “Help, my soul is cluttered!

  1. I love the thought of de-cluttering although I am already a de-clutter freak. BUT, I need to concentrate on my soul this Lent to see what there is cluttering my soul. What are the obstacles that keep me from God?

    Lovely post : )

    • Ah Theresa, I remember the day I was inspired by you to tackle my closet 😉 I think that sense of order is a real gift. My husband is that way, and so is everyone in his family. I’ve struggled with it all of my life. You should see me try to pack for a lengthy vacation…or a weekend one for that matter. It takes days..lol. I think I”m too right-brained for anything that requires decisiveness…hence, my junk mail piles.

      I loved what Father said about decluttering our souls. I always think of you as having such a serene (uncluttered) soul. You project such peace on your blog.

      BTW, I’ve been including you in my prayers for upcoming community elections. May we all end up where the Lord is calling us! Blessings always, dear Theresa! xo

      • Thank you Patricia for all your kind words. Well, although it goes against my natural inclination, God is leading me to run for President again since no one else will step up. I just want to run and flee alone up a mountain!! It’s so hard fulfilling His will in our lives…at times. I know He will give me the graces though.
        Thanks for the prayers and will include you in mine.

        • Theresa, with all of your organizational skills, and your beautiful Carmelite spirituality, I’m sure you make an outstanding President. I’d vote for you 🙂 But, I know what you mean about others not stepping up. We have that problem too.

          At least you’ll get a break next go round, since the constitutions set term limits. I think I”ll be secretary forever! I hate being secretary; hence the Lord keeps giving it to me! 🙂

          Don’t you wish you could just attend the meeting and not have to worry about preparing stuff or taking notes or, in your case, all the reponsibilities of leading the meeting? But, I know that obedience is part of what it’s all about. So hard sometimes though.

          Let me know how it turns out, and thank you so much for the prayers. Have a beautiful Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus tomorrow! Hugs dear present and future Prez… 😉

          • Yes…I would love to just go to a meeting and just *be*! In the statutes, I thought it said the Secretary and Treasurer serve the same terms as well? I am not sure it is as forthright as the terms for President/Council. All in God’s timing…that much needed solitude and silence…HE knows we can’t keep going like this without much needed time with Him : )

          • Theresa, I’m not sure what the statutes say about Sec/Treas, but I won’t be off the hook. My first job is infirmarian, but when our secretary moved to Nevada a year ago, they asked me to take on that one too. My last stint was a few years ago (thought I’d gotten that over with 🙂 But now, I’ve only served a partial term, so I’m sure I’m eligible to remain on. Sigh…yes, just to “be” at a meeting, or on that mountaintop! (I guess this is part of the climb up there… 😉 xoxo

  2. Oh Patricia, I can so relate to this post. Clutter is has been a problem for me as well, both interiorly and exteriorly. I am sometimes stupefied by this since I live alone-how can one person make so much mess! Again inside and out. Upon further reflection, I think the root of this problem is attachments to things and even to relationships sometimes. I think when I am finally able to detach, I will be able to de-clutter. Like you, I have had that dream of ridding my humble little abode of everything but the necessities. It might take me some time to get to that point on the outside, but I agree, Lent is a great time to work on ridding the interior attachments so there is more room for Jesus. Thanks for this thought provoking post. God bless.xoxo

    • “stupefied” 😉 What a perfect word for us poor clutterers! (Is the latter a word?!)
      I’m stupefied too! I keep thinking I’m making progress, and then I fall behind again! I’m getting more ruthless now though. The older I get, the easier it is to toss stuff I once thought I might “need”. lol! Do you find time is an issue with decluttering? If I had a couple of weeks in which I could do nothing but go through stuff, I might get it all done. But, I never do. So it’s hit or miss and a half-finished pile that ends up shoved back in the drawer, etc. I have this real aversion to throwing away the tons of holy cards, etc., that come in the mail. I’ve finally managed to toss all the Mass cards which I could not possibly use in a hundred lifetimes! I did find a place online which accepts holy cards and medals, rosaries, etc., for the missions. I’m going to bundle up all my stuff one day and ship it off to them.

      Well, let’s just hope we can make better progress with our souls 🙂 I’ll pray for all my fellow declutters this Lent! I think as long as our homes are clean, even if a bit cluttered, God’s probably OK with that. HUgs dear Karin…so glad you didn’t get snowed in again! xo

    • Nancy, congratulations! And, it only took you a week? Wow! You must have had minor clutter 😉 I guess you throw away your junk mail…lol! Does your computer ever get cluttered? Mine does. I tend to hold onto e-mails….in case I might need one again, at which time I can never find it anyway. I think people who write tend to attract clutter…all those books, articles, websites, papers, journals, etc., that we simply must hang onto! I just thought of a stash I can easily dispose of: those hundreds of recipes which I clipped throughout the years and actually cooked about two of…..tomorrows trash! Now that was easy 🙂

      Stay warm my friend, and enjoy your winter wonderland! How about some pics?

  3. “And, what if I should die suddenly! Oh my! Someone else would have to go through all my stuff….maybe even my super clutter-free sister-in-law. Gasp!” How I laughed reading this! Why?
    Because THIS particular scenario DOES go through my mind!

    This post is both humorous and insightful. (I admit I have moved clutter from one place to another.) Seriously though, I hate clutter – both inward clutter and outward clutter. I sometimes think (okay, maybe I always think this…lol) that outward clutter is a visible sign of inward clutter, or attachments as Karin put it. So, I’m constantly trying to declutter. In other words, yes, I’d love to join you in a good spring cleaning!

    • LOL, Mary! I’m so glad I’m not the only one worrying about her clutter reveal after she has passed on! I think there will be MORE IMPORTANT things on my mind when the time comes 😉 See, here’s some soul clutter…that pride which worries about such things! Ding…I’m marking that down!

      Mary, sometimes I move clutter and forget where something important in/with it is! I’ve been looking for a certain notebook for a year now. I know it’s in this house somewhere!!! We re-did the paint and floors last year, and lots of stuff got moved around.

      I think you are right about the connection between outward and inward clutter. There is something frenetic about clutter being around which transfers to the spirit. That’s why I think it would be helpful to work on physical clutter as well as spiritual clutter. Let’s meet back in 6 weeks with orderly houses and gleaming souls! Love and happy decluttering! xoxo

  4. My dear sister, this is very true for me! I wrote a post about this. Visit bonaventure1274.WordPress.com

    • Hi! I enjoyed your post on this topic very much…especially that super duper cluttered desk! Wow! Everyone should pay a visit to your blog just to see extreme clutter! I feel better already 😉 Thanks for commenting and letting me know about your blog. That is so awesome about your vocation. I will keep you in my prayers. You’ll be a wonderful missionary sister with your beautiful smile!
      Blessings, and have a most holy Lent!

  5. Patricia, I’m much more adept at decluttering my house, than my soul.. A physical mess of dust is so easy to spot and immediately remove, the other requires a conscience look into the mirror of God’s Word and back to me. What a beautiful reflection for the beginning of Lent and I sincerely join you in desiring to declutter my soul… really, really..from the depths of my heart.
    When my boys were little I drove them crazy decluttering stuff I found in their room that I thought wasn’t worth the box it was in. Turns out I was usually wrong and many “sorries” later, learned to let them have a bit of it..Today the room looks so empty without it all.
    More of Him and less of me….that’s my prayer this Lent.

    Love, hugs and blessings always +

    • “A physical mess of dust is so easy to spot and immediately remove” Uh, well not necessarily for all of us… some get distracted and go off to look up that new bird at the feeder just now….and so on 🙂

      Caroline, I just knew you were a champion declutterer like Theresa! I knew it! I can tell by people’s blogs whether or not they have clutter 🙂 Your blog has always said: perfectly neat house, very organized, no surprises in drawers. I love you anyway…lol!

      Don’t feel too bad about your boys not getting to enjoy their clutter 🙂 We all wish we had done things differently. I still regret never wanting to be Vanna White when my son and his buddy played Wheel of Fortune and would beg me. I had better things to do…. 😦 I don’t think we did major damage though.

      Yes, “more of Him and less of me….” That’s such a beautiful prayer.
      I love Our Lord to St. Catherine of Siena: I am He Who is and you are she who is not. How very true!

      I have a feeling that your soul doesn’t have much more dust than your spic and span house! Love and hugs always, and a very blessed Lent! xoxo

  6. Patricia,

    What a wonderful post! I love St Teresa of Avila’s description of the soul in a state of grace. I often imagine this is what our souls look like after confession. “Your soul looks like a diamond,” I say, as the girls come out of the confessional. They always grin widely. That’s a beautiful thought, isn’t it?

    It is so funny. Just the other day I decided I like living with my clutter (or mess). We have lots of piles of books and papers, art supplies, games, DVDs… I told myself that’s just the way our home is and not to worry about it. We live in a creative muddle! I guess I could still cut back on the clutter though. Probably we don’t need quite as much as we have! I’ll think about that seriously.

    My soul? Oh definitely it could do with decluttering. No doubt about that at all!

    • Sue, you don’t have clutter. You have inspiration!
      When I say clutter, I mean all those clothes I have that need to be donated to the thrift store, and the stacks of old catalogs and magazines which I keep saving because I haven’t looked through them yet…and never will! Stuff like that…which really serves no purpose.

      I also think that some of us are “wired” to be less organized than others. I have been trying to come to peace with that too. I don’t think God cares about my disorganized desk drawers. But like I shared in the post, I think he cares greatly about my dusty soul! (Wish they made a Swiffer for soul cleaning! 🙂

      BTW, I just love how you tell your girls they look like diamonds when they come out of the confessional! That is so lovely! And, it’s also so very true! They are diamonds, Sue. It shows in their radiant faces and smiles.

      Keep enjoying your UNclutter….guess where I stole THAT from? 😉

      Love to you and yours, Sue! A most blessed Lent to you and the Diamonds! xoxo

  7. Holy Shmoley! I didn’t even know that you were sending people to my cluttered closet! Cluttered indeed! This is why I turned down some opportunities that presented themselves, I really want to focus on Lent and the clearing away and filling of things that matter.

    What I loved – and my key takeaway here – seemed almost like it could have been overlooked:

    “perfect penance to join with my spiritual decluttering”

    I love this idea of a joining of the physical penance with the spiritual decluttering. NOW, I have to look and see how I can add some outward manifestation of the inner castle, so to speak. Because, I really, really love this idea.

    STOLEN!

    And you are a lovelier friend, to be sure.

    Cristina

      • Yes! That’s the name of my blog – with VERY good reason. I have online journals and real ones, virtual closets and the real one – that I should probably get to writing about at some point.

        xoxo!

    • Cristina! You mean you didn’t notice the stampede of new readers flocking over to your blog from here? LOL!

      What’s this about a “cluttered closet”? I thought it was a prayer closet? Can’t have too many prayers.

      Maybe it’s that other closet where you fit more into a day than I do into a month! 🙂
      I’m glad you like the pairing idea! I think it will help me a lot. In fact, as we’ve discussed in some of the comments on this post, there seems to be a connection between inward and outward clutter. And…I would bet that extends to lots of areas of our lives, not just clutter.

      Let’s become beautiful diamonds this Lent! What do you think?

      PS You can’t steal from me; I’m in the tribe. lol! What I got is yours for the taking!

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