Today was my decluttering morning.
We finally broke down and decided we needed more help than a cleaner. So we have a young Polish man come a couple of times a week, to clean, and do various housekeeping chores–he assembled bookshelves today.
And so I have designated the morning he comes as my decluttering morning. Which feels SO good.
Getting rid of things, and having a sparse household is linked to one’s faith in God. I often think of a lovely story Jack Miller tells. He and his wife Rosemarie founded World Harvest Mission and were visiting Uganda. They come late to a meeting, and every seat is taken, except the ones right in front, next to President Idi Amin. Rose Marie nervously tells Jack, “I’ll sit on the grass.” Jack says, “Rose Marie, no! You are wearing a lovely dress. You are a daughter of the King. Be brave. We will sit in front.” And they go and sit next to Idi Amin, who is gracious to them.
I have said that to myself numerous times–when nervous, when beyond my depth, when dealing with rude, overbearing or condescending people, when travelling, when insecure. “Anita, you are a daughter of the King.”
And when decluttering.
Because there are two principles at work in decluttering. As Thoreau rightly observes, the true cost of everything is “the life” which goes into earning and replacing it. If I tidy a closet by taking its entire contents to the Charity shop (a solution I’ve contemplated, believe me!) the cost of that will be the time it takes me (or more likely, my long-suffering husband, Roy) to earn the money to replace these things.
Conversely, I am a daughter of the King. I do not need to have clothes which are worn, or ill-fitting or ugly. I do not need to have things which are ugly, or chipped or broken lying around waiting to be mended. I can throw away lonely things and throw away the missing parts when they surface.
So I am consistently giving or chucking at least one thing a day, generally far more. Not selling, no time for that; besides, it is more blessed to give than sell.
And why am I decluttering? Actually, a wise person we sought spiritual advice from three years ago suggested it. “Let’s start establishing the Kingdom of God in your physical surroundings,” he said, “and other things will fall into place.” And I am doing that.
And order feels so good. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. I have never known how to combine writing and housekeeping. Because the thought of having to do housework so depresses me that I do neither the writing nor the housekeeping, So carving out one morning a week to just keep up with the house, and not doing much housework for the rest of the week, seems to be working. And hopefully, within the year or so, I will get it all done.
I am a bit cross with myself for having accumulated so much stuff. We spent 9 years in our last very large house in America which had a large attic and garage. So we basically stuffed things there to be dealt with later, which never came. Our bedroom was a suite, with a room-sized walk-in closet, a room sized dressing room, and an attached bath. And the house was in the modern affluent American style–a formal living room, and a family room, a formal dining area, and a family dining area. Duplication of furniture and stuff!
When we visited England and decided to stay, I did not even go to America to move us. Since the university was paying, we paid movers to pack up our house, lock, stock and barrel, and move it here. Which they did. Unread magazines, trashcans with trash in them, pantries with out of date food, garden compost bins, hoses–no kidding! It was the biggest van the UK movers had ever seen–and eight years later, I still haven’t unpacked everything
But I am determined to declutter. My maternal grandparents were pack-rats. When my aunt died, my parents inherited a house in which two bachelor brothers, a spinster sister, and their parents had a lifetime of stuff, nothing ever thrown out. The strain of sorting and donating all that literally killed my father who had been superlatively fit before those killing months.
I intend to die with a relatively spare, relatively minimalistic house so that no one else will have to waste their life sorting out what I was too lazy to!
Inside/outside, body/spirit, house/spirit, it’s really all of a piece, isn’t it?