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Spiritual decluttering

As I turn 60, decluttering seems to be the theme of my life. Marie Kondo, bless her painstakingly folded cotton socks, is my patron saint. Several important parts of my life are in the process of a radical cull: the church where I worship, my workplace and the family beach shack.  And, in preparation for a move to an apartment, my husband and I are packing up the family home of 20 years.

It's hard to ignore the suspicion that the universe is trying to tell me something! As I list all the avenues for my inner Kondo to my spiritual director, she gently suggests that God might be revealing something profound to me as well – the need to strip back spiritually, till only the essentials remain.

I ponder what this might mean in my situation. I’ve long been attracted by the Hindu notion of stages of life. The first is the youth/student, where a person sets themselves up, learns, experiments and explores. The second is that of householder – jobs, maybe a family, possessions and complications with all the joy and work they entail. The third stage is where one sheds the trappings (interesting word that) of a complicated life and simplifies, focusing on the inner journey, the spiritual quest.

This calls to me powerfully. I am still loving my job and will always be joyfully committed to my clan. But I yearn for less drivenness, for an end to my endless striving for perfection. Maybe God is gently telling me to calm down, slow down, simplify, get rid of the accretions and ambitions of a life time and, and what? And just see what happens. See what bubbles up. See what new phase of life this might usher in. Maybe even see that the best way to live right now is to keep doing what I do, just with less possessions and less pressure on myself to produce and succeed and be perfect.

John Main, founder of the World Community for Christian Meditation, talked about the simplicity of the mantra – the one small prayer word that the Community teaches as a radical and effective way to connect with the divine. Sit still for 20 minutes, quiet yourself, breathe, and come back from the myriad distractions in your ‘monkey mind’ by returning to the simplicity of the mantra. It’s a metaphor for what Jesus called ‘the one thing needful’ – to spend time with God. Elsewhere in the Gospels Jesus is quoted as saying, ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you.’ Take time to do the God-stuff and the other stuff will work out.

On Good Friday, Jesus was stripped of everything, even life itself, resulting ultimately in life abundant. I think on this as I slowly sort through my life and my stuff, reminding myself that the only essential thing is to endeavour to seek to see God more clearly, love God more dearly and follow God more nearly, day by day.

This was published in the May edition of The Melbourne Anglican


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Reader Comments (1)

Hi Clare - I'm a producer with ABC 7.30. I saw your article about downsizing and I was hoping to speak to you about a related story that we're doing. Be great to have a chat if you have a couple of minutes. Thank you.

May 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAlex McDonald

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