An Organizing Lesson From the Pulpit

 

I just had to post a lesson I heard today at church. Forgive me if this is not for you. I try not to discuss religion or politics if at all possible but I just had to share.

I am only here for a brief visit.

Today, we had a visiting priest (from the next parish over, so what I am about to relate I don’t think has any cultural difference to where I live). In his sermon, he talked about STUFF! I am not kidding. He started with a story about a traveler who visited a monastery and was surprised at how simply the priests lived. A priest asked the traveler how many bags he had with him. The traveler answered, “Just one, you see I am only here for a brief visit”. The priest responded, “So am I”.

The sermon continued with the idea of how much we consume in our society. The priest even suggested to the congregation that we could all go home and fill a box with items that we haven’t used for a year. (Little did he know that I had done this just yesterday.) He talked about the excuses people make, to delay the decisions to keep things that they are not using. (This priest must be an organizer at heart.)

The Hearse Doesn’t Have a Trailer Hitch

This all reminds me of the hilarious title of a chapter in Julie Hall’s book The Boomer Burden. The title, is “The Hearse Doesn’t Have a Trailer Hitch”. Think about it. If you spent less time shopping and spent less money on stuff, what WOULD you, COULD you do with that (time and money)?

A priest asks the traveler how many bags he had with him. The traveler answered, just one, you see I am only here for a brief visit. The priest responded, so am I. Click To Tweet

His lesson was not lost on me. I believe and often work with people who see, that by letting go, you open yourself up to new opportunities and positive change. As my morning’s speaker said, when you move on to the afterlife, the things you do in this life are more important than the things you had.

It just goes to show, that the idea of living an organized life is all around us, in every facet of life.

 

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Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization.

She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client.

Janet is a Past Board Member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals and a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO were she has been named Organizer of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.

Janet Schiesl

Janet has been organizing since 2005. She is a Certified Professional Organizer and the owner of Basic Organization.

She loves using her background as a space planner to challenge her clients to look at their space differently. She leads the team in large projects and works one-on-one with clients to help the process move quickly and comfortably. Call her crazy, but she loves to work with paper, to purge what is not needed and to create filing systems that work for each individual client.

Janet is a Past Board Member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals and a Past President of the Washington DC Chapter of NAPO were she has been named Organizer of the Year and Volunteer of the Year.

19 Comments

  1. Tracy on June 30, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Good post Janet!   

  2. An Organizing Lesson From the Pulpit on July 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    […] read and so true! An Organizing Lesson From the Pulpit | Basic Organization. I can totally […]

  3. Lisa Gessert on April 25, 2022 at 7:38 am

    This was just spectacular !! loving “The hearse doesn’t come with a trailer hitch”.

  4. Jonda Beattie on April 25, 2022 at 9:10 am

    Good post! I have shared the pulpit with our minister on an organizing topic and enjoyed the responses very much.

  5. Seana Turner on April 25, 2022 at 9:28 am

    I think I would be shouting, “Preach it” if I were in that congregation LOL! I love that this priest addressed this topic. I think I’m becoming more and more minimalist as I work in this profession. I encounter the weight and cost of “stuff” every day, and I want less and less of it.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 26, 2022 at 8:40 am

      I’m with you Seana. I want less in my home all the time.
      We encounter people who are struggling because of all the stuff they haven’t dealt with. I don’t want to have to downsize when I’m older. I just want to have what I need.

  6. Linda Samuels on April 25, 2022 at 10:14 am

    What a great sermon! And I wonder how many people felt inspired to go home and fill a box to donate, as you had done the day before? I bet a lot. When we focus on experiences vs. things, so many possibilities open up…space and more.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 26, 2022 at 8:42 am

      I wish I had known about the sermon beforehand. Maybe I would have partnered with the priest like Jonda did, or maybe just a Q&A after the mass.

  7. Sabrina Quairoli on April 25, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    I wonder how many other people got that story as you did. I have been in a minimizing mode for a while now. We are finding that we can live with so much less when the kids are out of the house. Thank you for sharing.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 26, 2022 at 8:44 am

      You, me and Seana have the same focus. Downsizing is quite freeing.

  8. Susan Weber on April 25, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    Great post Janet! Thanks so much for sharing. Of all the years of listening to sermons, I’ve never heard one quite like this…but it totally makes sense!! Maybe there’s a new marketing strategy we can take from this. 😉

    • Janet Schiesl on April 26, 2022 at 8:53 am

      Hi Susan. Thanks for commenting.
      Make sure you read Jonda’s comment. She “marketed” a sermon at her church. I thought that if I knew about it earlier I could have offered a Q&A after the mass.

  9. Julie Stobbe on April 26, 2022 at 10:37 am

    I have heard 2 sermons on having less. They are always good. On a slightly different take on your post. I went to England to a conference for a week and only took a carry-on. I went on a cruise for a week with a carry-on. It is very enjoyable to not be moving, loading, unloading, checking baggage. It is much more enjoyable to see the scenery, easily carry what I have and plan what to do instead of where to put everything. Most trips are brief, and not about our stuff, we just don’t always remember that.

    • Janet Schiesl on April 27, 2022 at 7:00 am

      You are so correct.
      When I was young I traveled around Europe with just a backpack, but my travel companion carried a backpack and 2 bags. I had a much more enjoyable time.

  10. Julie Bestry on April 27, 2022 at 2:59 am

    What an intriguing concept for a sermon! I’m no minimalist, but I do believe that beyond being prepared for (reasonably) anything, keeping more than you need beyond the tipping point dissipates the focus you can have on things that are important. You post has me thinking!

    In Judaism, we have a concept called “Tikkun Olam,” meaning “repair the world.” It usually refers to tzedakah (charity) or action (like advocacy or performing acts of kindness, or “mitzvot”). But another way we repair the world is through a focus on decluttering and rightsizing. Rabbi Hillel said (translated), “the more possessions, the more worry.” It’s part of a larger speech, where he talks about “the more [neutral thing], the more [negative thing” driving home the point of excess encroaching on order. There’s even a Jewish prayer which translates as, “Blessed is the One who brings order to the world, as You bless my efforts to bring order.” Who knew there was a PO-specific prayer?! 😉

    Our time on the planet is limited, as The Boomer Burden amusingly points out, if there is a Great Beyond, our stuff isn’t following us there.

    I’d be fascinated to see a comparative religious approach to organization and clutter. I wonder what Islam, Hinduism, and other great faiths have to say in this regard!

  11. Janet Schiesl on April 27, 2022 at 7:04 am

    Very interesting Julie. Every religion probably has lessons on this.
    I’m packing for the NAPO conference right now! I’ll only be there a short while, so I’m really focusing on what I need and nothing extra.

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