Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season. But, a part of me is always glad when the hustle and bustle is over and the to-do lists become a bit more manageable. I love to regain order in my home and take my fractured attention away from the multitude of holiday joys and focused back onto the routine of daily living.
This is the perfect time of year to clean out closets, file cabinets, garages, attics, and junk drawers and help make your home a simpler, more peaceful place. I guess I’m not the only one who feels this way. It seems that every big box or warehouse store has sales on their storage bins this time of year. Evidently, there’s something universal in us that enjoys the celebration but craves order afterward.
For me, all the cleaning and organizing that goes on in January is really an attempt to simplify my life; to make it more manageable in a world that’s full of distractions and things. It’s my attempt to clear my mind and uncloud my soul. Plus, I believe that living a simple life is not only good for the soul, it’s also good for the earth. It falls under the principle of “use less stuff” (one of my favorite “green” slogans.) When we let go of what we don’t use and donate it to others in need, we’re helping others as well as creation. When we live in a space that is uncluttered and ordered, we minimize the possibility of unintentionally buying duplicate items because we know what we have.
A few years ago, my husband and I decided to reorganize our laundry room and install floor–to-ceiling and wall-to-wall shelving on one wall to contain all of our laundry and cleaning products. In the process, we realized that we had almost ten unopened bottles of mildew remover and an additional ten unopened bottles of toilet bowl cleaner that we didn’t realize we had. [Note: I am not a neat freak or an especially fastidious housekeeper. I like a clean home but don’t mind living with some dust bunnies. (I’m hoping to convince the kids that they’re pets!) There is no way we bought that many cleaning products intentionally.] Years have passed and we have yet to run out of either!
The Church has always valued living a simple life. After all, Jesus set the example through His life and His preaching. Not only that, living simply has always been an important part of monastic living. Author Paula Huston has taken the idea of living simply to heart. In her book, Simplifying the Soul, Paula talks about how she and her husband downsized from their sprawling farmhouse to a 900 square foot home in order to live a simpler lifestyle and become closer to God. I have great admiration for Paula. She’s taken the idea of living simply to heart. Reducing the amount of possessions in our life is a wonderful way to keep distractions to a minimum and focus on what’s really important.
Catholic blogger Jennifer Fulwiler recently visited a monastery with her husband and five small children. She was so inspired by the simplicity of their life that she wrote a lovely post about making your home a domestic monastery. I love this idea of simplifying your home life and putting prayer in its rightful place at the top of your to-do list.
Even though I’m inspired by Jennifer’s escapades, I don’t think following her lead is quite right for me at this point. But, I’ll strive for simplicity in my life a little at a time. First stop, my junk drawer.
Copyright 2012 Laura Nelson