Clutter in Home and Heart: Confessions of a Hoarder

In Sunday’s Gospel we heard Jesus tell his disciples to take nothing for their journey but a walking stick, sandals, and ONE tunic! The homily was about eliminating clutter. This came at an opportune time for me as I pack up my house and office to move. What a lot of stuff I accumulated in the past twenty years, making my sorting and packing job all the more difficult!

Why am I saving a box of transparencies when no one uses an overhead anymore?  Why should I keep these size 8 clothes when I’m way past the middle age spread stage? That container of tatting thread? Really, I doubt I’ll be tatting anymore since I’ve taken up crocheting baby blankets. And those letters and greeting cards from years gone by? They only have meaning for me. I don’t think I need to save them as material for my canonization. The packs of paper that I “just might need” someday, I’ve never used.

I remember our Sister Karla commenting one day that she always had two of everything (like a tube of toothpaste) as a backup just in case. Then she realized this wasn’t poverty or trust in God.

Just one tunic? Hmm. How many coats, sweater, outfits do I have? (Counting them underscores the surplus.) Remember Imelda? I’m a runner-up in the shoe collection contest. A priest once suggested that whenever I buy or receive an article of clothing, I should pass one on. If only I had taken his advice!  When I visited in El Salvador, I met people who were dirt poor, yet they were happy . . . and generous.

St. Basil the Great said, “The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor.”  In other words, our “extras” are stolen from the poor!

Reducing clutter in one’s belongings is freeing. So is reducing clutter in one’s heart. On our life’s journey, we sometimes carry around grudges and hurts accumulated during the years. They weigh us down. We do not need to hold on to them. We also can get rid of guilt for past mistakes and move on. This is extra baggage. Probably no one else remembers them anyhow. The goal is to travel lightly. That way we will be happier.

Someone posted a list of truths about physical clutter that make sense. Here are a few of them:

Every single thing you own is something you have to take care of.

Clutter has been linked to depression.

The longer you keep something the more attached you become.

Eventually someone will have to decide what to do with every item you own.  A mantra for me these days:  “There are no pockets in shrouds.”  Also, I cringe at the memory of Jesus’ parable about the man who had such good harvests that he wanted bigger barns built…and then he died that night.  If I need more dressers, cabinets, and gadgets to store my many things, something is wrong.

Your stuff is getting in the way of your best stuff.


What do you think that last statement means?

What helps you to stay uncluttered physically? Emotionally?








  1. Jos clark on July 18, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Residence still too small for a birthday 🎂 bird house

  2. Manny on August 22, 2018 at 7:10 am

    Books! I hoard books. Actually I hoard other things but books are my downfall. I’m a hoarder too, and I do feel an emotional attachment to things. I think I was just born this way.

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