Thursday, March 27, 2014

What Spring Cleaning and Lent Have in Common...

I'm cleaning out my heart to make more room for God!
                     -Linda Seppa Sallisbury

Ahhhhh...just saying the word "Spring"makes me smile. Perhaps this year, more than any Spring season in my memory, I am just plain antsy for Spring to get here. Almost daily I look for signs of a bulb peeking up through the almost-frozen soil, a little green tip of a plant  filled with the promise of more to come. I look for signs of sunshine and blue sky. I even put bright yellow pillows on the bench in front of our house and the large copper pot there is filled with yellow mums and some orange tulips.
These signs of spring come in each night since the nightly temperatures in Spokane still dip into the freezing range. Yet I am grateful for even these small signs of spring since my dear friend Vicky Westra, in Moorhead, Minnesota, is hoping that it will stop snowing. Stop snowing, are you kidding me? All of us all over the country, who have been living the Disney movie "Frozen" for the past few months, are SO, SO ready for the luxury of sun on our shoulders and the smell of blossoms in the air.

Spring outdoors may be some weeks away, but Spring inside is 
full steam ahead with Spring Cleaning.

As my winter quarter grades at the college go in this week...and may I stop momentarily and in gratitude offer an audible "thank you, Lord"... I have become a deranged Mrs. Clean on the inside
of our home. My grandma used to describe some people as a "whirling durbish" and while that sounds like a cyclone-at-work, I think that is beginning to describe me. I look around and see anew things on the home front that have been unattended to...for some time, really. Piles of books that haven't bothered me for months, and in fact brought comfort as the fireplace blazed away in the chill of January and February, now drive me crazy. How did that pile get so high and out-of-control? Who lives here anyhow?  Where has my focus been?  Did I not see this "stuff", these distractions of sort, that were starting to crowd out our breathing room? Suddenly I see "clutter" that has been ignored, forgotten and has taken on a life of its own.

Now let me be clear, most folks who walk into our wonderful, eclectic and inviting home see a very personal and warm place that tells the blessed story of our lives. In all probability, they would describe it as very clean, organized, homey, inviting, comforting and filled with art, family pictures, books, native and ethnic artifacts and love. On most days, I would concur with this observation. This is a home that speaks to our souls, who we are deep down.

Yet since Spring is around the corner, and I have turned into a bit of a cleaning and sorting madwoman, logic has no part in this discussion. I need it clean, folks. I need it de-cluttered and I need it all done... NOW.

Bert just tends to laugh and move out of the way when I get into this stage. He tries to be helpful and do his part and he'll straighten and organize as best he can. But he is a very smart man, and after thirty plus springs with me he mostly gets out of the way, smiles, and chuckles at the intensity of my desire for spring cleaning.

And all of this in the middle of Lent. 

I am trying to house-clean on the outside and heart-clean on the inside simultaneously. No wonder I am one hot mess. Praying one moment, throwing out junk, and smiling the next. Full of passion, and love, and anger, and confusion. Gospel music filling the air, I am singing and cleaning, going room-to-room.

Truly, underneath all of the activity, I am yearning for more of what matters. I am trying to declutter my house and my heart.

Lent and Spring Cleaning, from my perspective, have a great deal in common. Lent, from my former Catholic upbringing, was a time of deep self-reflection. It was the road to Easter and the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. It was taking the time to give up something that mattered and to focus in prayer on who Jesus was and what He did for me.

Lent has always felt like a cleansing of my soul. A"Spring Cleaning", if you will, of the distractions in life that have superceded my Faith and taken me hostage.

Just as I scrub cupboards and rearrange shelves to make more order and more room, Lent (for me) is a chance to make more time for Jesus.

Truthfully, Jesus often takes second or third place as I fly through my to-do list. He is crowded out by college papers, consulting, time with great friends, reading great books, laundry, and even wonderful family moments. While my Savior is a part of all those things, and a huge piece of my consciousness every day, He could always be more front and center.

Lent is the forty days leading up to Easter. Lent puts Jesus more front and center into my consciousness. Lent is an opportunity to re-prioritize, to clean out, to revamp, to reorder, to get rid of the gunk, dust balls, and dirt in the unlooked at corners of my life.

Lent is a chance to see deep into my heart. A time:
to... stop 
to... slow down
to... pray
to...focus wholeheartedly on God.

It is a time when LESS is MORE.
It is a time to practice wholehearted living for Him
It is a time to put Jesus at the top of my to-do list.
It is an OPPORTUNITY to give more of me to my Lord and Savior.

Not once have I read in the Bible, "Jesus raced from place to place, barely catching His breath as He was so stressed from the to-do list His Father gave Him." Rather the Bible is full of stories where Jesus slowed down and ministered slowly and calmly and individually to someone. It may have been a group of someones, but the disciples do not describe Jesus as a frantic, distracted, organizing, de-cluttering, racing from here-to-there  fool.

I want to clean out my heart of all the unnecessary distractions so I can focus wholeheartedly on Jesus and my relationship with Him. I want to be like that bulb in my yard that has been hibernating in the almost frozen ground. It is pushing toward the light and its purpose...blooming in the sun!

After a time of Lent and cleaning my soul, heart and mind...headed to Easter, I too want to be blooming in the Son.

God Bless!
Love, Linda

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