Altar Call –Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

April 10, 2005


“Do not clutter” is not the eleventh commandment


          There is a lot of talk these days about something called clutter-blindness. Evidently it is a problem more for men than women. Many men simply do not see clutter. It is there but they do not see it.

          My father was color-blind. He could not distinguish red from green. That was no problem when my mother was in the car with him. Like most good wives, she told him when to stop and when to go.

          We never scolded dad for his color-blindness. It was a defect for which he was not responsible. Clutter-blindness is another matter. It is a matter of choice. Men could see clutter if they wanted to. They choose not to see it. At least that is what all good women think.

          Rarely will a man admit that he is clutter-blind. My friend Mike Gaby is an exception. He admitted it in print. His wife Priscilla must have beamed with delight but I was shocked and disappointed. Mike is a nice fellow. Now other wives will expect their husbands to confess.

          So far my wife does not know about Mike’s admission. I plan to keep it from her. What she does not know will not hurt her. Hearing what Mike said might, however, prompt her to say, “You are clutter-blind too, so admit it.”

          If she brings it up, I will have to admit that I am indeed clutter-blind. However, I will defend it! There is nothing wrong with having a little clutter here and a little clutter there. There is no law against it. Women just want everything to look “arranged.”

          But why? The last time I checked, “Do Not Clutter” was not the eleventh commandment. If God is not opposed to clutter, why must we assume that it is wrong.

          I grew up with piles everywhere – a pile of cotton, a pile of corn, a pile of manure, a pile of hay. Farms cannot exist without piles. Outside our house we have piles of grass and piles of leaves.

          So naturally I have little piles around me in our home.  In our bedroom I have a pile of clothes. What else is the chair for but for my clothes? At least once a week I straighten up my clothes. Just this morning I waded into my pile of shirts, pants, and underwear. I put away four shirts, three pair of pants, and several sets of underwear.

          Why did I hang things up? Simply because I want to stay married. I know my limit for piling clothes on the chair is five days, so I did my duty. However, out of sight is out of mind. Now it will be difficult to remember if it has two days or three since I wore that brown shirt.

          In my study I have little piles of papers everywhere. Is it sinful? Absolutely not. Jesus nowhere said, “Do not pile papers.” If piles are OK with Jesus, then they should be OK with everybody.

          I know what papers are in each pile. I can find anything I want within an hour or two on a good day. I have a plan. If what I am looking for is not in the first pile, then it may be in the second or the third pile. Going through the piles is helpful. I always see things that I should have discarded a week ago so I can trim down the size of my piles.

          In the interest of marital harmony, I have learned to make some concessions about my piles. When company is coming, I know my sweet wife does not want anyone to know that she tolerates piles of stuff. So like an obedient husband I hide my piles in the closet or the filing cabinets. When everyone has departed and the coast is clear, out come my little piles.

          Yes, I am clutter-blind. I never see an offensive pile of stuff until someone points it out to me. Even then, I have the same reaction every time: “What is the problem?”

          Piles are normal. Piles are manageable. Piles can be organized. Piles are useful. One of these days my name will be in the obituaries. Friends will no doubt read, “Old Walter had many piles.” That will be the truth.

          When I am gone, someone can come in and sweep away all my piles and arrange everything sweetly and orderly. My stuff can be burned and everyone can rejoice that my piles will never clutter another room.

          They will take me out to the cemetery and lower my casket into the ground. Then –guess what – they will put a pile of dirt over my dead body. Somewhere I will be laughing because, in the end, piles win.  + + + +