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In the Hindu trinity of Gods there is Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. Without the power of Shiva, clearing out the old, there would be no space for new creation. Sometimes fiercely depicted, wearing a necklace of skulls, Shiva is nonetheless a beneficent God integral to the cycle of life.

Man, it feels good to play Shiva. Ever notice how domestic life has a tendency, as firmly established as the physical law of entropy, to become more and more cluttered? At least in our rush, stay busy, and buy culture we are much more prone in our quest for fulfillment to acquire things than to slice them away. So we schedule in new activities for ourselves or, perhaps worse, for our kids— ballet lessons, gymnastics, trips to the mall, whatever. We purchase new items to fill unrequited needs. "I must have that new sound system with the six interlocked play-modules." Gifts pour in, especially on designated holy days, as if this new ceramic mug or that salad spinner would really make us whole. More likely all this stuff will soon make us crazy if it continues to mount unabated.

Thank God for Shiva! Yes, how good it feels, how divine, to clear out room amidst the rubbish. Whenever we throw something away, we also create something of value— nothing less than space and time. Give away those clothes I haven't worn in years— I've created more space in the closet. Cancel those gymnastics lessons— I've created more time for the family to lounge about, enjoying sabbath leisure.

Rereading the Genesis story we find that God was not just creating things. He was also throwing stuff away, or at least straightening up, so as to make space for the new. ("And God said, 'Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.") You can imagine the Omnipotent One adding, "There, that's much better, everything in its proper place. Now I can sit in peace and have a cup of tea." ("And he rested on the seventh day.")

So when we get rid of unnecessary stuff that is threatening to engulf us— and when we straighten up that which remains— let us remember this is a divine task. Toss away that ornamental plate that no one likes. Bag those old toys and give them to someone who might use them. Clear off those desk surfaces that never see the light of day. Let there be light. For you have embarked on a most holy mission: creating holes in a cluttered world.

What in your life (material objects, excess activities, outworn commitments) needs to be thrown away or radically reorganized? Might you make a small start on that today?

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