Ruminations: Clutter

We bought a couch for our new home. It arrived a couple of weeks ago in a big box, which we put close to where we wanted to assemble it. But there were other things in the way. Other boxes we needed to unpack first. We let it sit in the box until the space was clear.

In the meantime, the big box became a convenient place to set things. Tools we were using to assemble other pieces of furniture. Estimates and receipts from contractors. Things that we eventually want to hang on a wall somewhere. Snacks that we munch on while we take a little break in between things.

This box became a cluttered table. A flat surface for random things to land. Its original purpose as a container for our new couch was forgotten. We couldn’t put the couch together unless we cleared it off and did something else with all the detritus.

Maybe we do similar things with other useful items or practices. We might create a special place in our homes for eating meals with family, and then clutter it with work, junk mail, and items that get waylaid en route to a drawer or cupboard. We might start doing something that’s intended to enrich our lives, and then we cover it up with a lot of other things and forget why we started doing it in the first place.

We might need to stop and intentionally arrive in the moment, to consciously bring to mind the reason we’re doing what we’re doing. Whether its meditation, volunteering, gardening, making a phone call, showing up for a covenant group… anything really.

A lot of clutter can accumulate in our minds. A sense of obligation, perhaps. Or just the every-day anxiety of a full to-do list. Being so distracted by what else is happening in the day that we forget to appreciate what’s right in front of us. Maybe we’re carrying around some resentment that keeps us from being fully present. Or we’re hanging on to some irritation from earlier in the day.

Some of that isn’t easy to set aside. Some of it, we may have to pick up again before we figure out what to do with it. But choosing to arrive purposefully to a given practice or opportunity for connection might even help us deal with all of that mental clutter more intentionally, too. Just like our couch could only serve its intended purpose when we cleared the clutter away from the box, it’s easier for me to create meaning when I clear away some of the clutter and take a moment to remind myself why something is important to me. Maybe you’ve found the same to be true in your life.

Rev. Randy Partain