This is the tenth post in a series about spirituality, time, and place and how our stories play out relative to these realities. Find the previous posts here:
You Are Your Stories
Own Your Story
Is Now Really All We Have?
Where Did You Come From?
Where Are You Going?
A Bigger Story
Where Are You Now?
Healing Sick Spaces
Creating Sacred Spaces
Our stories are not abstract ideas. They are the reality we live every moment of every day. There are always elements of our stories over which we have no control. Some may be major plot points while others are tiny detours. But in general we get to choose what story we live. The tragedy is that many of us don’t exercise that power to choose. We are shaped by stories that we have not chosen to write, which we do not own and in which we do not feel we belong. We go from experience to experience, crisis to crisis, moment to moment reacting but feeling powerless to create our own narrative. We struggle to learn the lessons of the past or to draw inspiration from the possibilities of the future. And we can’t even begin to think about locating ourselves in a story that is bigger than the challenges of each day.
Every part of our story is located not just in time but in space. Yet, we are often blind to the way our locations affect us, and how the places through which we move shape and change our stories. It is inevitable that some of the spaces we will have to navigate will be sick, and some will be sacred to us. But, if we aren’t able to shape our spaces they will shape us in unexpected and possibly unwanted ways.
CHOOSING WHAT WE BRING INTO OUR STORIES
I suspect that we all struggle with the temptation to fill our lives with clutter. There is the physical clutter of filling our spaces with so much stuff that we hardly have space to breathe. There is the temporal clutter of having too much to squeeze into the time we have available.There is the mental clutter of too much information and too many decisions and choices to process. There is the relational clutter of too many people to impress and consider. There is the spiritual clutter of sorting through all the voices calling for our devotion, while also sifting through our own story to make sense of our lives. It can all become exhausting and overwhelming.
In the light of this, what difference might it make to our lives if we were more intentional about what we bring into our stories? This would mean being more deliberate in choosing what parts of our past shape and influence us, what future fears and hopes we will prepare and aim for. It would mean being more aware of where we choose to go and how much time we spend in sick spaces as compared to sacred spaces. And it would mean being aware of what we allow into our physical, mental, relational, emotional, and spiritual spaces. I believe that living with this intentional awareness can help us make sense of all that clutters our lives and release anything that doesn’t belong.
DECLUTTERING OUR STORIES
So how do we put this mindfulness into practice? How do we make decluttering our stories a consistent and spiritual practice? Next week I will explore this in more detail, but here are some quick suggestions to begin with:
- Identify and remove the clutter. Clutter is anything that takes up space (physically, temporally, mentally, relationally, emotionally, or spiritually) but adds no value to us. When we are able to see the things that are cluttering up our stories, we can start the work of removing them.
- Arrange the space. Some of us love organisation and order. Some of us prefer more chaotic and deliberately disorganised spaces. This does not just apply to physical spaces, but to spaces of time, and mental, relational, emotional, and spiritual spaces. Whatever our preference, it can be helpful to be aware of how our spaces work, what makes them feel open and welcoming to us, and how to create space for what is important.
- Sacredise the space. Decluttering is not just about removing things. It is also about being intentional about what we bring in and include in all of our different spaces. It’s about ensuring that our location, our time, our mind, our heart, our connections, and our spirits are filled with enough symbols, images, silence, music, scents, and rituals to make our lives feel more meaningful and more connected to our core values and priorities.
What ideas do you have for decluttering our stories? Why not share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s learn together!
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