I took some time this past week to clean out our four-drawer vertical file at home, which produced about 8-10 bags of shredded paper to recycle. Ambitious and determined, I also started decluttering closets to donate clothing and household items to a charity
On the surface, this may not be very interesting. But what is interesting is that this seemingly mundane activity of decluttering held such a metaphorically-rich spiritual experience for me. While the process of going through the files and determining what to dispose of was daunting and tiresome at times, I found meaning in letting go of what was no longer needed or important to hold onto.
As I purged items, I found myself feeling less burdened and weighed down with non-essential stuff. Even shredding so much paper was liberating, making room to enjoy and dwell in this empty space. Knowing also that this shredded paper could be recycled and used for another purpose held meaning. Nothing goes to waste, a lesson by itself. Everything has a purpose and a meaning, even empty spaces.
Focusing on this empty space is what I find so rich with spiritual meaning. By emptying ourselves of what is no longer needed or not important, we open ourselves to what is important – making room for God and for each other. When we harbor or cling to things and even emotions, we are prone to focus on what is fleeting and unsustainable. We deny ourselves the opportunity to be filled from within by a God who lovingly waits for us to receive all that we need. The more we can empty ourselves and make room for God in silence and in the community, we can surrender to mystery and be transformed anew.
As I was de-cluttering, I caught myself pondering how I could make more room for God, and two books came to mind that I have on my bookshelf–Make Room for God: Clearing Out the Clutter by Susan K. Rowland and Making Room for God: Decluttering and the Spiritual Life by Mary Elizabeth Sperry. Now I feel inspired and called to spend some time reading these books and reflecting on my spiritual life and relationship with God. Such moments of awakening and reflection from reading books like these fill the empty spaces in my life and bring me to a stronger relationship with God.
As you reflect on your own life, what decluttering thoughts resonate or emerge for you? What are you holding onto? What do you need to let go of? Can you make room for God to have space in your life? Can you trust and have faith that God can transform your “stuff” into something purposeful? Perhaps God is calling you to live a fulfilling life as a religious sister? Are you ready to see what God can do within you and through you?
Coming up in September, we are offering a Come and See retreat for single, Catholic women, 18 to 45 years old, to make some room to reflect on how God may be calling you. This September 8-10, 2023 retreat is being held in the beautiful countryside in St. Catharine, Kentucky. If you are interested or know someone who may be interested, please click here for more information and to register. You can also contact us to talk to a sister and to learn more about being a sister with the Dominican Sisters of Peace.