“Spring cleaning” was a common household term I heard growing up. It meant washing windows, inside and out, and wiping out the dust in the window sills that had blown through the cracks and collected during the winter. We took down curtains for washing and blinds for dusting. We paid attention to cleaning corners hidden behind furniture and wiping down the woodwork. We dove into cabinets and closets getting rid of unneeded items as well as the junk that mysteriously showed up. “Where in the world did this come from?” we’d ask. Rarely did anyone know the answer. Whether you were 6 or 60 everyone pitched in to get the work done. We all were responsible for a task, working together to accomplish a job no one had time to do on their own. Upon completion we’d sit down and talk about how great the house looked; how good it felt. The house didn’t seem as crowded and we found things we had lost since the last spring cleaning. We took time to admire and congratulate ourselves. One, because we worked and accomplished a large task together. Two, because we knew that this moment of satisfaction after our hard work, was just that, a moment. We’d go back to cleaning with “hitting the high points” as my mom would say, “to keep it up as best we could.” The prairie dust would find it way into the unseen corners and crevices of the house again. Items would be lost in the clutter and mysterious things would appear in cupboards. Out grown or worn out clothes and shoes would pile up in the closet.
Spring cleaning was a necessity in maintaining our lives. We knew that the clutter and dust would become greater than the people who lived in the house if we did not annually sort through the clutter and move the dust and dirt in the corners and windows back outside.
Lent comes every year and it has become for me a bit like a good spring cleaning of my soul. Physical and spiritual clutter can distract and overwhelm me from what really matters. I dust out the crevices and corners I haven’t had time to pay attention to and clean the windows in order to see more clearly. I get into the back of the closet where old and unused ideas are stashed. Through practice I appreciate that the cleaning is a necessity or else the dust and clutter will consume the energy of my spirituality. I ask the same questions of my soul as I ask when I clean a closet: Where did this come from? Should I even give this away since it is so old? Can you believe what I found?
Lent invites us to walk with Jesus through the several perspectives presented in the Gospels and cut to the chase of how this life of faith and commitment brings life and light to the world. This editing/cleaning work of Lent can be as troublesome to us as is evidenced by the disciples in the Gospels. Getting rid of old ideas that entomb the spirit of the law rather than liberate the soul is still as essential in following the Jesus Way. I am completing week two and I am already feeling the load lighten.