Friday, 10 May 2013

My Room is Facelift-ed

Do you recall the last time you spring cleaned your room or your house? What was the experience like?  Tiring? Were there moments of confusion because you did not know how best to organise your space? How did you feel when the job was done at last?

I have just finished spring cleaning my room and I am now feeling extremely pleased with its "new" look. But it hadn't always felt this way throughout the 3 days of work. 

If you have spring cleaned before, you might have a different procedure from me. In fact, the way I spring clean has evolved over the years. 

Previously, what I did was to empty out everything in my cupboards. Everything was sprawled on the floor, table, bed and on every other available surface. Just imagine the mess! And then, I would clean the cupboard interior, air them dry and then begin fitting stuff in, reorganising the usage of each shelf and space. 

The biggest problem with this method was the sight of the heaps of things all over the place. Where does one begin? The sheer sight of the mess is a big put off. A stress-generator, which somehow manages to also jumble up the wires in my brain...! And I would be so pressurised to rush through and finish the packing in a day so that I don't have to sleep in the mess. Spring cleaning was always a stressful chore.

This time, what was different for me was that I cleared one or two compartments at a time. I decided to take it slow. The stuff sprawled across the surfaces did not appear so insurmountable. There were no avalanches and there were certainly spaces left on the floor to walk on. Occasionally, when I felt I needed a break, I went to my computer to chat or read or play a few rounds of Candy Crush. Interestingly, the process became less painful. It was alright to sleep with the mess around me for I knew I would get back to work on it the next morning. I took about 3 days to complete the cleaning.

I paused to look and re-look, plan and re-plan how I should arrange my things to fit my lifestyle and priorities. I recalled the most annoying clutters I had and realised how stifling they had caused me to feel in this small space of my room. I need space. I want space. 

Minimalist. That's the goal. And so... out went everything (well almost) that were not going to be used. I had to look at each item, consider its usage, consider my present needs, and decide to keep or throw. If it's to be kept, how important is it and how often will I be using it? That will determine which part of my room, which tier on the shelf this item shall be placed. 

I am actually extremely pleased with my room after its "facelift". 

All that clutters must be removed... and so now, space is reclaimed and air can flow more freely. There is a sense of refreshing that brings joy and ease. And what makes it even better is that the process was manageable. 

As I was clearing out the mess, I recalled Fr. Chris sharing about God reclaiming the space of our hearts for Himself... and that needs spring cleaning.

The most difficult thing about spring cleaning is the first initial step of opening up the cupboards, digging out the stuff there and taking a look at the messiness. It is far easier to remain oblivious to the surroundings and get by, even though we know it is high time to do something about it. 

Isn't this why many people, myself included, shun away from silence, from taking stock of what is actually there in the silence of our hearts? We are afraid to see what is there because to see the mess is to have to clear it. And the task of clearing isn't the most enjoyable activity we can engage in. And it takes time. A great deal of time and effort to work at it. Working at it means to forego time I can enjoy myself. Anyway, the mess has always been there. It doesn't kill. I've been living with it. I can continue to live with it. I function well in any case. 

The realisation I had this time was that I wasn't aware of how much I desired for empty spaces. It wasn't that my room was very messy (my mum would have made sure of it!) but to have things off the wall, off the tabletops, off the piano top. I never thought that it would have made so great a difference. But now that there are so few things, I realise how the little bits that form the greater clutter really was inhibiting and was consuming the comfort I felt in my room.

What is real for the physical space of my room is real too for the spiritual space of my heart. Could it be the same for you too?

It increases the conviction with which I shall say, "The state of my table tells the state of my mind," a statement I used to tell my ex-colleagues when I gazed helplessly upon the mess on my table on certain days at work.

Now that I have spring cleaned my room, it is time to look more closely within and spring clean the room in my heart. The room that needs to be constantly spring cleaned because it is here in this room I find and sit with God. If there is no space there, God will soon be squeezed out. If there is an avalanche, God will be hidden beneath the piles. And I will be screaming out for spaces to breathe. 

I do not have to be perfect overnight. A goal for an overnight perfection will only bring tension for it is not possible. To know that my conversion and perfection is a lifetime's work, and that each morning, I awake to continue working on the messiness of me, it is easier to sleep with ease amidst the messiness, and to be more prudent with managing my expectations. To recognise that everyone else is also work-in-progress, no matter what pace they're working at, helps to regulate my expectations of them too and lessen my frustrations towards their work-not-done.

I'd spring clean regularly in bite-sizes so that the mess each time isn't too overwhelming. I'd spring clean so that I can always feel the refreshing Breath of Life.

What in the clutter of your life might God be calling out for your attention? 

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