My wife is obsessed with researching home cleaning and organization on the web. I recently joked that she spends more time watching YouTube videos about house cleaning than she spends actually cleaning house. She was not amused.
She is not the only one. Housekeeping, decluttering and tidiness are trending topics on the internet. On YouTube, dozens of domestic gurus attract thousands of subscribers. “Clean My Space,” one of the more popular webcasts in this category, has a number of episodes with more than a million views.
Perhaps the most popular housecleaning guru is Marie Kondo. An organization consultant, Kondo is focused on decluttering. She advocates placing all your clothing and possessions in a pile. She says you should pick up each one and get rid of any item that does not “spark joy.” She has very specific rules about how the items you decide to keep should be stored and organized. She also has detailed instructions for how to fold clothes and store them. Her ideas are so popular that her last name has become a verb. People say they have “Kondoed” their closet, book collections, living rooms or even their refrigerators.
When Debbie told me about the Kondo method, I thought it was the silliest thing I had ever heard. One morning out of curiosity, I watched a couple of her demonstration videos on YouTube. That afternoon, I transformed my closet and dresser. I had already pared down my wardrobe after I retired a few years ago, but going through each article of clothing again made me realize that I was still hanging on to things that I really don’t wear.
My closet is much neater, and our local Catholic Charities was able to put some good clothing to better use.
Why is her method so popular? I think it taps into an anxiety that many of us have about materialism. Kondo encourages people to be ruthless about pruning their wardrobes, book collections, and possessions in general. She asserts that we are burdened by owning things that we don't appreciate. Sound familiar? Luke 18:18-23 comes to mind.
This summer, I applied the Kondo method to my exercise of faith. No, I didn't pile all of my sacramental objects on the floor. But I did go through the process of evaluating each of the activities that have made up my faith practice in recent years.
Over the past decade or so, as I have journeyed back to faith and back to the Church, I have explored a number of practices. In addition to weekly Mass, I have attended Bible study, participated in a Catholic book group, and followed a number of Catholic bloggers. I dabbled (lightly) in reading the likes of Aquinas, Chesterton, Lewis and Ratzinger.
With each activity, I have started asking the question, “Does this deepen my faith or my appreciation of the faith?”
The result is that I have cleaned house. In recent months, I have pared my practice down to the essentials. That means Sunday Mass, weekly Adoration, daily Rosary and little else.
Does that mean I no longer appreciate those other activities? Not at all. My Bible study group returns from summer hiatus in a few weeks. I am looking forward to that. Having a couple of months off has made me appreciate it even more than I have in the past.
Later in the fall I will probably re-join my reading group. This best illustrates the value of reflecting on practices. I stopped attending last year due to other obligations. Those conflicts no longer exist, but I have been slow to return because of the group’s focus on Theology. Theological works can be interesting, but I don't tend to be moved by them. So, why go back? Because after reflecting on my time with the group, I conclude that, content aside, I enjoy the fellowship. That’s more important than whether or not I’m in the mood to read Aquinas on a particular evening.
Over the coming months I will probably focus less on Catholic social media and more on Catholic literature as I budget my reading time.
Copyright 2015 Kirk Whitney.
Image copyright 2015 Kirk Whitney. All rights reserved.
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