By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, April 14, 2016

It’s that time of year, a time to prune the hedges and trim the trees, a time to de-clutter the closets and to empty the junk drawer of all of the accumulated… well, junk. If your house is like mine, then it is time for spring cleaning. As you take inventory of your household, how do you decide what goes and what stays? The difference between trash and treasure can be difficult to determine. What questions do you ask to determine if an item is a family heirloom or a goodwill gift?

Do you ask questions of utility? Useless things are easy to toss, the stack of junk mail that seems to grow week by week that simply needs to be trashed. Cupboards and closets are a bit harder to thin out. We have an emotional attachment to our clothes and our things. Have I actually used this “apple-corer-peeler-slicer” since last year? Does it still have a use in my life or is it just taking up space? For some people, an object’s actual utility doesn’t even matter. It is our imagined use that makes the difference. Can I imagine a use for this? Yes, one day paisley silk shirts for men from 1992 will come back in style. For writer MaryAnn McKibben Dana, some lifestyle design experts may be asking the right questions for both our home design and our theological style.

Dana explores the work of Marie Kondo. Her book, The Life-Saving Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, has been on the New York Times best-seller list for months. Dana writes, “The KonMari method doesn’t concern itself with reusing and repurposing. It asks just one question: ‘Does this item spark joy?’” Now, that is a question that might just change your life and not just your lifestyle.

So, I ask you. What questions do you use to evaluate your inner life? Are you stuck asking questions of utility that make you feel judged or useless? Do you imagine a future that will solve every problem, but remain paralyzed in the present? Maybe you should ask, “What sparks joy in your life, right now?” This question of what sparks joy might lead you to toss out or take up a new spiritual practice, as much as it may lead you to toss out an unnecessary item.

Asking, “What sparks spiritual joy?” may lead you to an active and abundant life. One promised by Jesus and empowered by the Spirit. Consider your joy and not just your junk.