I’m observing Lent this year. 40 days of… deprivation. That’s what I used to think Lent was all about. During my junior year in college I gave up desserts — which was a challenging accomplishment when I had a full meal plan and walked by the dessert bar at every meal. I remember that giving up dessert was a trying experiment — mostly because I focused on how trying it was. I was constantly thinking about how much I wanted dessert.
Last year, I observed Lent and was encouraged by a spiritual guide to two things: relinquish something that separates you from Spirit and add something in that invites Spirit in. I warmed to this idea because the focus wasn’t on deprivation, but rather on releasing one thing to make space for something else.
In deciding what to release, I pondered what things in my life separate me from Love and from Spirit. I came up with things like eating junk food, “getting lost” on Facebook, reading bad news in the paper, thinking mean things about other drivers, you get the idea. Like most people, I do a lot of these things unconsciously — which is why I welcome the Lenten season, this opportunity to reflect.
After writing the list of “separating” activities, I chose one thing I wanted to stop doing for 40 days — eating junk food. It wasn’t about losing weight, I was attempting to release something that’s superficially comforting, but makes being open to Love much harder. I wanted to make space inside me for something better. Given what a “go to” comfort food is for me, this was admittedly a tough thing to give up.
What made it easier: deciding to focus on what I wanted, rather than on what I was giving up. I pondered: what’s a spiritually nourishing replacement for junk food? I giggled about Divine donuts and Spirit snacks. After brainstorming in earnest, I realized I want deep and lasting comfort, a contented feeling in my heart — the kind that comes from a long satisfying sigh or a soul-bearing conversation with a loved one. I realized, yes, that’s what I want instead of junk food.
Instead of deprivation, Lent became about creating moments of real connection, getting a full night’s sleep, and spending time with the Sacred in meditation. It was an unbelievably nourishing four weeks.
A year later, I find it amazing that all of those intentions are still active in my life. Do I still eat junk food? Yes. Do I *need* it the way I used to? Not really. And most of all, the daily practices I started (going to bed on time and meditating) haven’t gone away. The deep connection I was craving with loved ones and Spirit is being met more satisfyingly than ever. Amazing.
What does this have to do with organizing?
Good question. When you clear out what you no longer want and things that don’t truly serve you, you create space. This space, in turn, creates room for the things you really do want. And before you know it, these new behaviors become a healthy habit.
So when you clear off your desk and you get rid of the trinkets that annoy you and get in your way, you create space. Suddenly there is room for you to work and think… and suddenly your bank registers are balanced and you find that *thing* you were looking for. And you want to keep it that way.
And when you go through the file cabinet and empty out the old papers that feel depressing or guilt-ridden, you create space. You can b r e a t h e ! And in that space, you make room for a new product idea or a new client or a new project you can’t wait to begin.And you feel confident about future efforts.
So maybe you won’t observe Lent this year… but maybe you can discover the beauty of making space in your life by clearing out something that doesn’t serve you. Consider embracing the idea that by consciously choosing to let something go, you make room for the things you crave most and that nourish you deeply.