The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Lives cluttered

The spiritual practice of shedding stuff

In a room near the end of a hallway, chairs form a circle as Eileen Stevie waits to greet those who feel overwhelmed. Once a month at Christ the King Lutheran Church, Cary, N.C., she leads a group that focuses on a single, soul-searching question:

How can we free up more space for the important things of life?

But Stevie, a professional organizer, doesn't lead a Bible study. Instead, she facilitates a de-cluttering support group in the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan region that encourages people to strip down their possessions and simplify their lives.

"Clutter is a huge problem everywhere in our country," she said. "We're consumers here. We buy things even when we don't need them. We have to get that new TV even if our old one still works. We save things because we think we might need them later or we don't want to feel wasteful.

"There's 'stuff' clutter that takes over our houses, and there's the 'time' clutter of activities that keep us so busy we don't have time to think. Then we've got 'paper' clutter that piles up all over the place, and we've got 'mental' clutter — like holding grudges and not forgiving others — that can prevent us from moving forward and getting on with our lives.

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