Detachment and Declutter: a spiritual journey

Detachment and Declutter 

Many spiritual journeys require gathering of materials in preparation for the long trek. The westward exodus from Nauvoo to the Salt Lake Basin required setting in provisions of cooking supplies, staples, tools, teams of animals, wagons, handcarts, etc with the knowledge that in there would be no resupply along the way.  

Other spiritual journeys though require as much preparation but with the goal to lighten the load as the best option for success. Of late I have known that the latter is required of me.  

Declutter and downsize are popular topics theses days. Goodness, so many books and online gurus on how to toss and organize your belongings with the goal of a quasi zen space where everything has its place.  

Years ago, I helped a family pack their home to move away. It was a large family yet absolutely nothing had been tossed out in preparation for packing. Therefore, it could not all fit into one moving van. Growing up with an upwardly mobile family with five children, we moved 9 different times and became rather proud of our ability to pack and unpack quickly. A move 2 days prior to Christmas, with Christmas threatened to be cancelled if the kitchen were not unpacked, motivated 5 teenagers like nothing else. Plates were Frisbees: bam, bam, bam onto shelves and under cabinets. There was even time to hunt for a Christmas tree.

 So, the idea of packing and moving is not unfamiliar. However, in the last 20 years of marriage and staying in ONE place (never ever had this experience), well stuff accumulated. Don’t know how. When we moved in it was empty and echoed and we joked how we could never ‘fill’ our three bedroom, 4 story condo (with attic and basement). Famous last words. My goodness. I must confess, reader, that we do not have large rooms but still things accumulated.  

I am largely to blame with the adoption of hobbies: knitting, handspinning, fleece preparation, lace making and sewing. The title for such a person is “Fiber Artist”. And well, artists need supplies, you know, to create. And indeed I did enjoy and needed to develop my creative side– long suppressed by the rigors of academic pursuits. However, with the decline in my health, I am finding it harder to DO these wonderful creative activities. A kind of grief has overcome me as more and more activities that brought true temporal happiness are being stripped away. It is as though God really did want me to become an LDS monk and detach myself my ‘things’. I keep getting the impression that indeed a journey is implied and that I must get rid of most of my things.  

 Recently read a popular decluttering book by a Japanese author who emphasizes to only keep those things that bring JOY. And to think of donating all those ho-hum items to another who may find joy in them. Case in point. I purchased a quilt kit from a famous online quilt along company. I thought how beautiful it would be and a great keepsake for my husband. However, I realized that I simply do not have the energy to start yet alone finish it. So, I listed it on Facebook and a quilter who could not afford the full price of the kit was ecstatic to acquire this quilt she had been admiring. It felt good to ‘share the joy’. More of that is occurring as I am stripping cupboards, cabinets, bookcases, grain storage, just everything to simplify my life. With less ‘stuff’ I can more fully follow God because I am not tripping over, having to dust and maintain, feel visually dissatisfied. Something tells me to prepare for an eternal journey.  

 So, my spiritual journey is making me keep only those things that bring me true joy. Distribute items that give joy, food, warmth to others; thereby freeing my time, energy and space to focus on the ultimate source of joy—God.

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