The Spirituality of the Dumpster
April 29, 2018
Each year around this time, my husband and I become restless. We’ve just survived six months of winter and are eagerly anticipating green grass, golf courses and porch time. So in an effort to practice patience we begin some “nesting” projects to alleviate this itch for spring.
In our household this attempt to change usually involves some minor home improvement projects and general cleaning out and getting rid of. The cleaning out can be an overwhelming task to even begin. But as most of you know, with any good project dismantling has to happen first in order for transformation to take place. I don’t know what your process is but mine is messy. I start in one area and before you know it every cupboard door and closet is open and the rearranging begins.
Several years ago I was feeling totally overwhelmed with “stuff” and we ordered a dumpster for our spring time clean up. I began foraging through the house scooping up items that no longer had significance in the life of our family. I trudged back and forth to that dumpster umpteen times I’m sure, grumbling with each trip, at the amount of stuff we had accumulated and no longer needed, nor would anyone else want for that matter. After a time, I began to realize that my steps became lighter, my demeanor more pleasant and I began to feel less crabby. It took me a bit to understand what was happening, but eventually I came to realize that the physical release of some of the items I was tossing was also giving me an emotional release. The freedom I began to feel was that of letting go. With each item I threw into the dumpster I began to liberate of the emotional baggage that was keeping me from transformation. This dumpster became a holy dumping ground for me.
I wish I could say that I mastered this practice of holding on and letting go, but I haven’t. Somehow I still accumulate “stuff”; both physical and emotional. What I have become better at though is recognizing the signs of when it is time to stop and embark again in this holy task or organization.
When I begin to feel restlessness or unsettled with things or people around me, I know it’s time to give myself the privilege of, slowing down to take a look inside the dresser drawers of my heart. What is it I need to get rid of? Am I holding on to anger, resentment, fear, jealousy? Or have I just stuffed my space with so much busyness (much like my Tupperware cupboard which I quick open to throw another piece in, in hopes nothing will fall out) that it keeps me occupied and not having to deal with my own real issues? In his book Everything Belongs, Richard Rohr states, “how you are living in your heart is the truth”. My heart has been in a bit of disarray lately and needs some tending to. This requires time. Now I realize that most of the minutes in your day as in mine, are spoken for. We all have commitments and obligations to attend to; so I’m not suggesting you “pencil in” another time commitment to help you overcome your already hectic schedule. However a suggestion might be to pray for awareness as you begin this process of cleaning. By requesting awareness we seek God’s help to examine those times during our days when we have a couple of free minutes to “rest in God” and then to reorganize and regroup. It is often in those stolen moments I am filled with gratitude at what I’m surrounded by; my home, a cup of coffee, a cardinal at the feeder, my cat purring on the sunny window ledge, clothes folded on the table to be put away, dishes in the sink needing to be washed reminding me I had food to eat, cars and crayons on the dining room table, which remind me of the little people that occupy a place in my heart. These little “Sabbath moments” tell again of the presence and blessings of God in my life; helping me to stop and appreciate this yearly ritual.
So as I continue this sacramental task of “spring cleaning out” I have committed to enjoy the process this year and become aware to those buried blessings tucked away in the depths of my heart - and my closets!