“Children, we organize to keep the house looking well-kempt. We clean to make the house, well, clean!” This is an all too real but sort of fake quote. I mean, these words or something quite like them were spoken to me and my siblings and I have spoken them to my own children. I have been looking around at my house this week and thinking “it needs a good clean!” We try to keep it up every week by sweeping and wiping down surfaces, putting away clutter and going through the mail. But it’s been a while since we really dusted the blinds and hit the baseboards, scrubbed those bathrooms hard and cleaned out the closets. It’s a big job to do the deep dive of cleaning, but Spring Cleaning feels like a must this year!
Even though I often put it off, I really like cleaning house. When I was younger I learned a song from a children’s musical that went like this: “Work, work-work, work, work-work! At times work can be easy and at times work can be fun, but you’ll never feel the feeling that’s as good as the one that you feel when you’re done!” (I sing this now and my kids give me the evil eye!) I like the feeling of accomplishment that comes from seeing what once was dusty, dirty and cluttered now clean and fresh. I feel quite a bit of joy when my house is truly clean (usually lasts anywhere from 10 minutes to maybe a day!).
Gradually, of course, the clutter and dust and mess creeps back and we have to clean again. The more we do it and stay attuned to the needs of our home, the better we get at it. We recognize the clutter and tackle it earlier when we are watching for it. Or, sometimes, we get busy and let it pile up. And it just takes longer, but with some elbow grease we can get it clean again.
I have heard the season of Lent referred to as spiritual spring cleaning or decluttering of the soul. I find it certainly is a time when we as pastors point attention to the inner life and when we as hearers also look inward. I wonder: how is your soul “looking” this season? Are you finding cobwebs and dust bunnies? Or have you made a first round of sweeping and dusting? I am feeling a bit dusty still. I have allowed dust to collect perhaps while I was caring for my physical body and others around me. I’m a bit embarrassed to say I have let the corners go untouched while the main walkways appear fairly dirt free. I have dust bunnies rolling around and I’ve ignored the “hard to see” spots.
Psalm 51 comes up this week and offers “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” One of the ways “we” clean our inner selves is to allow God in or dare to invite God into our cluttered heart – again. God is like the close friend or family that comes in and cleans along-side us; perhaps the breeze of the Holy Spirit refreshes our inner home, blowing away dust and cobwebs. God is always willing to come, no matter the state of our hearts, no matter the depth of dirt or neglect of the spiritual home. The psalmist asks to be washed, cleansed, to receive a new spirit and to restore the joy of salvation. I find myself asking for this cleansed, refreshed and restored inner spirit this Lent! I have let things pile up in certain places – and I’m ready to clean, to be cleansed and washed and renewed by God.
During this season, I have committed to several short, brisk walks a day. I want to get my heart rate up and work on a breath practice to reduce stress while walking (from the Selah program). I am doing better but still not getting out as often as I’d like. When I do get out to do these walks, conversations with God are helpful and centering. It’s been a time of invitation and welcoming God into the dustiness of my spirit. So, we are working on it together; my spirit is a bit piled up, but we are working on it. I am realizing that I need more time with God – and God has been right here waiting. So, the walks will continue as we clear away cobwebs and scrub clean the little spots where dirt piles up. The conversations and prayers grow longer as I focus on dusty problem areas. I am growing fond of these walks and conversations; I needed them much more than I knew!
Thank you, God, for renewed joy in salvation and life with You one walk at a time. My Friends, I pray you are finding this season refreshing in some real way as you continue this journey to the cross. I continue to hold you in my prayers, dear ones. May the Holy Spirit guide you and renew your spirit this day.
If you would like to view past editions of Time with Tara, follow this link: https://harbordistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/