I’m not the most tidy person of all time, but I do believe there is something especially valuable in the ritual of cleaning and decluttering. I’m not just talking about routine chores like washing dishes or mopping floors, but the deep Spring Clean or complete overhaul of a storage system. Even someone like me who, to be honest, has little problem navigating piles of clutter feels different when their living space has been freshly cleaned, organized, and purged of unneeded items.
Certainly there are spiritual parallels to the process. Many traditions include rituals meant to cleanse the spirit in some way. A focus is often placed on finding those thoughts and behaviors within ourselves which cause negative consequences and purging them from ourselves. And part of the idea of feng shui is that the condition of our environment has a direct impact on our thoughts and actions. Clearing the spaces around us of clutter and useless objects creates a space more supportive of a focused and positive life.
Now, of course, that’s the ideal. Just like some aspire to daily meditation or prayer or other consistent and lofty spiritual goals. Those are great. I’ve never been particularly successful living up to that kind of expectation, but that’s a blog post for another day.
Still, for those of us who are seeking meaningful ritual with spiritual subtext, a regular ritual of removing things from our physical existence which serve no positive purpose is a simple and meaningful one, especially when combined with the act of donating those things to those who can benefit from them. Cleansing our own lives and elevating someone else’s in the same action is a ritual with a really profound positive lesson: just because something isn’t useful to us doesn’t mean it’s worthless to everyone else. Things aren’t good or bad, they just are. It’s how we use them that matters.