Columnists Mark my words

Going from deck the halls to clear the decks

Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

Oh, if I had only one. Maybe then, things would be different.

Because I’m determined to start 2021 on a positive note, I’ll be doing something special on Jan. 11, the second Monday of the month, known as National Clean Off Your Desk Day. And if it’s true that a clean desk is a productive one, then I’m in real trouble.

My first problem is that I don’t have just one desk. I can happily report, however, that my Leaven desk is actually clear! That’s because I haven’t been there to use it since mid-March when the church offices went into lockdown.

Unfortunately, that meant the chaos simply shifted elsewhere: to the desk in my home office, to my home computer desk, to the desk in my bedroom, to the tray table in the den (which doubles as a desk) and to the most used “desk” of all: the kitchen table.

In fact, the kitchen table is so cluttered, I had to clear a 12-by-18-inch gap there just so I’d have a place to eat! My situation reminded me of this story:

A woman was telling a new workplace friend, Alice, about how awful her former boss had been. Alice laughed and said, “So, forget him! Why not just enjoy it here?”

Then Alice went on to tell a story: “I’m reminded of the time I moved a few years ago. I was making enough money to have a professional mover pack for me. When he asked what I wanted him to pack, I waved my arm and said, ‘Everything!’

“So, when I got to my new place, I saw that he had taken me literally. Along with my furniture, he’d packed up all of my trashcans. There I was in my beautiful new place . . . with all of my old garbage — including old newspapers, empty ketchup bottles and grapefruit rinds. So, my advice to you, my friend, is: Leave the garbage behind!” (Adapted from William J. Bausch’s “A World of Stories for Preachers and Teachers.”)

Leaving the garbage behind is a marvelous way to start a brand-new year. That’s why I’ve set up a schedule to clean off my many desks. It’s not all that hard, just time-consuming. My kitchen table, for example, is simply a convenient dumping spot — for mail, newspapers, magazines, receipts, papers, bookmarks, pens, old greeting cards, stamps, stationery, throat lozenges and books.

Not only does it look like a mess — it literally messes with my mind and spirit. I can’t honestly enjoy my morning cup of coffee when I’m surrounded by this mishmash mountain of chaos.

So, I’ve started the clean off your “desk” “day” early. The first things to go from the kitchen table were all the items that didn’t belong there: books to the bookcase; pens to a container; stamps and stationery to the home office desk; papers and receipts to the file cabinet or folders; and every newspaper or magazine that wasn’t dated 2021 into the recycling bin.

I can’t explain the sense of relief and accomplishment I’ve been feeling. And it’s something that I’d like everyone to experience as well in this new year.

Maybe you don’t have physical clutter robbing you of peace, but your “garbage” may be feelings of resentment, anger, guilt, grudges or regrets.

Resolve to make 2021 the year to leave all of that garbage behind. And the place to start may be as close as your desk, your kitchen table . . . or even your heart.

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Fr. Mark Goldasich

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