Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cluttered rooms, cluttered heads

I’ve been thinking about the similarities between a store room and a head (that container for your brain, not as in sailor terms the bathroom). You begin by tucking away useful stuff there, then move on to filling its shelves with stuff that might come in handy sometime. Finally, when it becomes hopelessly cluttered and disorganized, you just start tossing stuff in and allowing it to fall where it may. Headaches may result.

My major accomplishment between showers yesterday (yes, more rain) was purchasing, assembling and installing a new set of metal shelving in the church store room, a cluttered place where clutter is complicated by the fact others who use the parish hall use it, too --- a group of yoga practitioners, a small artist collective, Girl Scouts and several Narcotics Anonymous groups (how’s that for a mix?).

We had it almost under control in the spring, but had failed to fight the good fight in the interim and the whole mess was out of control again (the cleaning lady quite wisely just never opens that particular door). The toy box had been pulled out and its contents scattered, several large boxes in which equipment had arrived had been tossed in at random, the dried up palm fronds from Palm Sunday still were there (we actually burn those to produce Ash Wednesday ashes, just haven’t gotten around to it yet) --- and then there was Christmas.

Christmas clutter should not be a problem in an Episcopal church, or so it seems. Church decorations are minimal --- the Advent wreath and nativity are put into place as the season begins, then greenery and flowers, for the most part biodegradable, are installed after the final Sunday in Advent but before Christmas Eve. Everything is packed away after (or has biodegraded before) Epiphany.

But it has been a practice to decorate the parish hall for various purposes for at least 50 Christmases in this building. The strategy apparently has been to bring decorations from home and tuck many of them away in the store room (or elsewhere), planning to use them again, then forget they’re there and bring in a new batch when Christmas comes the next year. Then repeat the process. The result had gotten to be kind of scary. So I’ve thrown away or recycled a lot of tattered Christmas past and feel better for it --- and the store room is beginning to look good again.

But like our heads, there’s this dark and scary area attached to the store room that’s full of heaven only knows what and every time I look in there I back out. We call it the hell hole --- a narrow area between the south wall of the church and the north wall of the restrooms entered through a waist-high door and extending several feet . As the years have passed stuff (including still more Christmas past) has been stuffed in, pushing earlier stuff farther back.

I felt downright positive about stuff after an hour or two in the store room yesterday, freshly resolved to reapply myself to similar situations at home, maybe even in my head. But that hell hole, and we’ve all got them, still scares me.

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