Paying bills as soon as I get them, writing to-do lists, and getting rid of things–these habits have reduced clutter in my life.
The less I own, the less I have to worry about. I haven’t taken a vow of poverty, but for a while now I’ve been scaling down my clothes, books, and anything else I can find. I enjoy having to deal with less.
Putting things away is related to downsizing. What I keep belongs somewhere. I have to find a place for my possessions so they don’t dominate my sight. As much as I possible, I’m putting things in drawers, on shelves, and in closets and cabinets. (We just moved, so some rooms are cleaner than others!)
Clear space conveys a sense of serenity. There’s an old proverb, “out of sight, out of mind,” which is usually interpreted in a negative light. That is, if you hide something, you’ll forget you have it when you need it.
But I take this saying in a positive sense, too. Whatever is on my mind can distract me from what what should be on my mind. And I don’t want to spend my life chasing rabbits while missing out on God’s best. As Jesus reminds us,
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33
Another habit helps. Call it awareness, or presence, or mindfulness. It has to do with giving myself to the task at hand, putting my heart into what’s in front of me.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda criticized Luke Skywalker’s impatience: “A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away . . . to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing.”
Stuck on the planet Dagobah, Luke wanted to fly away to help his friends. But he was blowing the chance to be trained by one of the greatest Jedis in the history of the order. He failed to consider that, properly prepared, he’d be in a better position to help them and others.
In a sense, Luke wasn’t on Dagobah. His body was with Yoda, but his mind dwelt halfway across the galaxy.
And I discovered that I behave that way, too.
Hurrying through little chores, I began to realize that I act like I’m not here. My mind races ahead to the next project without giving me a chance to finish what I’ve started. Feeling the stress in my gut, I can tell when I’m living in the future.
So I’ve repented of failing to obey Jesus’ words:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34
The best way to deal with the trials of tomorrow is to attend to the matters of today.
It’s a question of when. Do I live in the present or am I preoccupied with the future?
But it’s also a question of where. The future is more than a time; it’s also a place. And to the neglect of my actual circumstances, I’ve traveled to the future too often.
The first question God asked in the Bible is, “where are you?” (Genesis 3:9).
He’s still asking. What’s your answer?