As is my habit in the days after Christmas, as I put away my Christmas decorations, I feel the need to organize my “stuff.” By stuff, I mean that which lurks in hiding – closets, cupboards, and storage. As I hauled my Christmas stash down to my storage locker, I was confronted with a startling reality: The majority of my storage space was taken up with empty boxes. I believe I counted over 30 empties down there – what in the world?! Oh, they were stuffed inside each other and stacked ever so carefully so that they didn’t take up more than a quarter of my space. Still. Why am I keeping all these empty boxes?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that, over the years, I have moved too many times to count. Or maybe it has to do with the fact that my living “space” has always been a small one, and proper use of storage space has always been important to me. Still. Boxes? What does it say about my life as a 52 year old woman that I have a pile of boxes in storage?!
As I thought about it, although it made sense at one time to hang on to some boxes, I don’t really need them right now. I can always get more boxes if I need them (thanks to my friends at Amazon). But I wonder what else might be lurking in my life that’s just taking up space? I’m talking about heart things, responses and ways of being that at one time may have even been helpful or necessary to get me through certain situations. Or attitudes and mindsets that I’ve unwittingly allowed to pile up in my soul.
On a total whim, I picked up a little book at Christmastime called A Year to Clear, by Stephanie Vogt Bennet. I bought it as a gift for someone else, but grabbed one for myself as well. It’s subtitled “A daily guide to creating spaciousness in your home and heart.” Her premise is about looking at what lies beneath the physical stuff that collects in our home: mindless habits, outdated beliefs, old bitterness, etc. It’s a gentle guide to getting a grip on both our mental, emotional, and spiritual spaces as well as our physical space. (Note: It has some Zen overtones, but I’m able to read it through my personal lens of faith).
As I sorted through my pile(s) of boxes, I determined that it made sense to keep a few for sending care packages to my niece at college. I’m hanging on to some appliance boxes. And a couple I cut up in an attempt to make my own paper mache creche (that may be another post). But it feels good to not only have cleared out some space down there, but to realize the clarity that comes when I face things head on. So here’s to a year of being a bit more intentional about what gets to take up residence in my life.