About four years ago, this little book by Admiral William H. McRaven hit the shelves. The full title is Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe the World. The book builds on the core tenets the admiral laid out in his 2014 commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin. The message of his speech went viral, and I suspect it was due to the straightforward and practical tips he presented to the young men and women.
While he doesn’t use the name of the virtue of orderliness, it is truly implied. This virtue is related to temperance and means keeping oneself physically clean and neat, and one’s belongings in good order. When you think about it, no one notices if your dresser or desk are in order or even if you make your bed. However, these are the hidden habits we can form which reflect fidelity in small matters (Lk 16:10). Gradually they strengthen your character, as you have the daily satisfaction of completing even a small task. Properly ordering one’s life and even decluttering leaves space to think and get things done. Furthermore, developing these good habits will help you to maintain clarity of mind and heart and provide room for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you.
Admiral McRaven recounts an observation which reflects the opposite of orderliness, and forces one to pause and think:
“In December 2003, U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein. He was held in confinement during which time we kept him a small room. He also slept on an Army cot, but with the luxury of sheets and a blanket. Once a day I would visit Saddam to ensure my soldiers were properly caring for him. I noticed, with some sense of amusement, that Saddam did not make his bed. The covers were always crumpled at the foot of his cot and he rarely seemed inclined to straighten them.”
The subtitle of Admiral McRaven’s book speaks to the paradox that little things can change our lives. This week, give it a try – Make Your Bed.