Stumbling to simplicity

One of my classes this semester brings the challenge of spiritual disciplines. We have to pick one and then stick to it. I decided upon the discipline of simplicity. Often my creativity lends itself to mess and chaos rather then orderliness and simplicity.

Thus far I’ve chosen to live out this discipline by cleaning/organizing for 15 minutes a day. Despite great lapses of following through, my room has maintained a cleaner nature.

The last few days involved coming back from a retreat, being sick, and painting, which left order to be greatly desired. So I began to clean and as I did I took a deeper look at my stuff.

Under my bed (a place rarely visited) there was all sorts of stuff I don’t use, need, or even want. I pulled out the dust-infected bins, went through old fabric and toys. I bagged up broken and lonely shoes. I rearranged things so I can use the space I have efficiently.

Why is simplicity important? Even better, what does cleaning my room have to do with spiritual disciplines or simplicity?

Simplicity encompasses so many areas of life – From where our food comes from, to where we buy our clothes, to how much water we use, to how we organize our space and time. For me, every great ideal and value has to start with the little things. Before I can wrap my mind around an allusive giant like simplicity, I want to see how it works every day.

We live such busy lives. From scheduling to schooling to stuff, our days are packed. Our space is cluttered. Our minds are distracted.

I am free to live more simply when my immediate space is clear, clean, less. Since an artist’s room is likely to experience sudden bursts of projects, mess and creativity without much motivation for cleanliness, I decided to make it a discipline. Something I have to work at, consistently.

As I clean and sort, I have opportunities to throw out, give away, sell or donate things I don’t use or need. It’s not that stuff is inherently bad. But stuff for the sake of stuff is really getting me nowhere with my goal of simplicity.

The less stuff, the more space I have to create. Same goes for our minds. When we make time to clear away, clean out, and unpack our experiences, we leave space for God to move, create, transform.

If we’re going to be living sanctuaries, I’d rather not be a cluttered one.

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