Decluttering usually goes to the bottom of our list of what we would care to talk about, much less do.
Few of us enjoy spending precious time going through stacks of paper or “stuff,” much less clothing that doesn’t fit anymore or was in style fifteen years ago.
Clutter can accumulate in almost any place—the garage, the basement, closets, desks, and even chairs covered over by a pretty throw. (I know because I have one!) We may be reluctant to part with objects that we have collected over time or that were given to us by a loved one. Often these have sentimental value.
Numerous articles have been written on the topic of decluttering, and new ideas can help us get started. However, in the end, it usually takes something very important or pressing to motivate us to declutter successfully. We may have decided to downsize our home. There can be health issues. Or we may want to make more room in order to offer hospitality.
We need to remember that we are members of the body of Christ and that our Lord gives us a desire to be close to him and share in his life, his work, and his love, even as we get older. He proclaims that even in old age, we will bear fruit (see Psalm 92:14). As we come closer to the time when we will see Jesus face-to-face, he wants to protect our hearts so that we can continue to receive his love and give it to others.
Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to advise, “You must remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people.” Jesus knew the trap of things becoming treasures for us, and he encouraged us not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth but rather to store up treasures in heaven (see Matthew 6:19-21).
Warnings like these are helpful as we talk to the Lord in prayer about how we might simplify our lives and stay true to our relationship with him. Decluttering is one of those positive things we can do in order to put ourselves in a position to be more generous toward our Lord and others. Ask the Lord to draw you to open your heart more fully to him, so that you might store up treasures for heaven.
Caring for Our Bodies
Just as most of the clutter in our lives accumulates little by little, most of the changes that occur in our bodies as we age occur slowly. From day to day, we may barely notice slight declines in our muscle tone, our joints, our memory, our sight, or our hearing. Cumulatively, however, these declines have an effect.
The good news is that there is much information today on how we can compensate for the normal changes that happen with age. Unfortunately, we may lack the desire to exercise, learn more about the brain, or pursue good nutrition.
Yet the truth is that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Now, that just might get our attention! As St. Paul reminds us, we are no longer our own. We have been bought at a price; therefore we honor God with our bodies (verse 20).
We should all consider how we might honor God with our bodies. What can we do to take better care of ourselves, so as to continue building up the body of Christ, however we are called to do so.
Bernice turned ninety-three this past year. She still lives in her home, but she is fortunate to have her son living in an apartment attached to the main house. She says, “I am still alive for a reason; God has plans for me to complete. It is important for me to cooperate with him.”
Bernice has found that she keeps her hands flexible by doing a number of finger gymnastics early in the day. Folding laundry, dusting, and running the vacuum also help her to keep moving. She even cuts her own hair and then washes and styles it. She prays throughout the day and is inspired by the Holy Spirit to keep up with family and friends by writing notes of encouragement.
As I look to the future, I am encouraged by Bernice’s commitment to keep herself moving, invested in life, and responding to the grace of the moment to love others with God’s love. I know I need more grace as I age. Disorganization, physical limitation, even simple aches and pains can sow discouragement in me, but I know that because my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, God will care and encourage me to take care of myself. The Spirit will show me today what more I can do to cooperate with the Father’s grace.
This is a selection from A Season of Grace: Embracing God’s Gifts in the Autumn of Our Lives by Caroline Bassett (The Word Among Us Press, 2017), available at www.wau.org/books.