Spring Cleaning: Our Need for Interior Freedom

cleaning supplies

I do believe that the urge to spring clean or fall clean is a necessary function for us. The reality is, we live in space and are surrounded by stuff. And our surroundings influence how we feel and go about the day. The space we dwell in gives us energy or sucks energy out of us. Have you ever stayed overnight at a retreat center? If so, you have noticed how spare the rooms are: a bed, a desk, a chair, a lamp, maybe an icon or painting on the wall. If we are to tend our interior world with care and wisdom, we cannot be distracted by the exterior world. We can live in large houses with lots of rooms and furniture and “stuff” and yet be free to sit still and think or pray. We can live in simpler surroundings but not feel free at all because the rooms are cluttered or dirty or both. Regardless of the size or grandeur of your dwelling place, it can nurture your inner life or frustrate it.

Whatever your space, you can determine what kind of cleaning it requires. For 10 minutes, sit in a room where you spend a lot of your time. How does it feel? Are you distracted by piles of magazines or unfinished projects? Is it time to clean or change—or throw out—the curtains? Does the arrangement of furniture make it difficult to move freely? Does it hamper your access to good reading light or to fresh air?

I guess what I’m trying to say is, spring cleaning should be about your interior life as much as it’s about your physical environment. They should enhance each other. Bring your true self to your rooms, and clear your rooms of what is not true to who you (or you and your loved ones) are.

  • What’s the best decision you’ve ever made about your physical home?
  • What one piece of advice would you offer to someone about to spring clean?

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay.

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About Vinita Hampton Wright 184 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

6 Comments on Spring Cleaning: Our Need for Interior Freedom

  1. Vinta-
    Great reminder of how to “make room” for the Holy Spirit in my life – thank you!
    In response to your second question, I find that “small steps” continuously taken (Kaizen) can nurture ongoing balanced discernment of what to keep while encouraging me to be more open to passing along “stuff” (great word!!).

  2. I love the idea that cleaning can be a holy activity, and I can bless a room, aware that God is present, even in a mess.

  3. The best decisions I’ve made about my home is to see the house as space not as individual rooms with predetermined uses (bathrooms and kitchens exempt, of course). This has allowed us to be flexible as we determine how to use the space to our best advantage. Does the dining table placed in front of the fireplace offer more a more intimate gathering? Does the sofa facing the large window in the “dining area” offer a better space for viewing nature and praying? Also, only have a home as large as you need. You will have more time and money to devote to your ministry or your talents if you are not investing in unnecessary space.

  4. Thanks for the reminder. You hit a chord. Need to throw stuff away and remember live “One day at a time,” guided by the Holy Spirit.

    • Before you “throw it away” consider if it could still be used by others.
      When we recently “downsized”, we decided to participate in a Gift Economy. We asked if there was anyone else that could benefit from this. We gave our breakfront to the parish as a display case. (OK we didn’t give it away, we had to pay some movers to bring it to the church.) The dining room set was given to a young couple that were moving into their first home. We gave the unneeded lamps and clocks to GoodWill. The sofa was too large for most apartments, so we gave it to Salvation Army to sell in their thrift shop.
      It took a good deal of time to consider “Who could use this?” and some of the things were so worn out they had to be discarded. Others, such as the mattresses and box springs were discarded for sanitary reasons.
      But if you consider each item as a possible gift for someone – rather than junk to be discarded – you will find it is easier to “pass it on.

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