Spring cleaning is a wonderful and sometimes traumatic thing. When the weather warms up, The Lovely Joanne opens the house and lets our prevailing westerly wind sweep through, duct-tapes me to the vacuum (just kidding) and we clean things I didn't even know could get
dirty, or cared about. Named and unnamed pollutants get pushed out of our home in a determined effort. It feels better to live in cleanliness, doesn't it?
Our minds and emotions get cluttered and dirty too. Our thoughts trip over mistaken concepts of ourselves, God and others; our hearts are burdened by unnecessary baggage; and our spiritual vision is begrimed by wrong ideas. Lent (40 days staring March 1 this year) is a time to stop, open the windows for the wind of the Spirit, and clean house. Will you join me on a journey of self-examination and letting go?
Lent is a word from Old English meaning 'spring season'. In some Christian traditions, these 40 days are about denying the self, including practices such as fasting, repenting of specific sins, going without a habit like chocolate, and giving to the poor. Less-formal churches aren't as acquainted with these practices, but for any of us, this season can lead us into a journey with God that will enrich us. Let's look at a couple of examples and see where they lead.
What about giving up something, or 'fasting' from it? Does God want us to sacrifice in order to please him? No, that's not the point. Our lives can get cluttered, like our homes, with 'stuff' we grow accustomed to but which doesn't really add anything meaningful. When we're distracted with habits or possessions, for instance, we have a harder time stopping to focus on the Lord and what he might be saying to us. Solitude and silence, as spiritual practices, get interrupted and we lose focus (this happens a lot to me).
Does God want me to 'repent' of specific sins? Most basically, repentance is changing our minds about something; first of all, about who God is and who we are. That being said, we let something evil continue in our thinking and actions because we haven't yet seen its true nature. A time of silence and meditation, alone with the Lord, or the words of a faithful friend, can help us see it clearly. Once something in our lives is clearly seen as 'anti-God,' then it's time to change our minds, and turn away from it instead of letting it clutter our lives.
What about just spending more time with God? I'm glad you asked! Longer days mean more daylight, and a good use of that is just being outdoors with the Lord, enjoying his company.
I'm going to be taking extra time to stop, meditate, listen, contemplate, and review my life with God during the next 40 days. Will you join me? I'm praying my daily journey with him will be clearer and more meaningful. I'll pray the same for you too.