did we come to know that we were dying a slow and
unacknowledged death? And that the only way back to life
was to set all our packages down and begin again,
carrying with us only what we really
Barbara Cawthorne Crafton
Most of us have lives as cluttered and unkempt as
the garage or attic. Stuff everywhere. Dust bunnies. Spider
webs. We don't remember what we have, so we keep
buying more. Unsorted piles of this, that, and just
about everything. Yes, the garage (or workshop) provides
a painful metaphor.
Every now and then we have a spring clean. Out
comes the dustpan and broom-perhaps, on inspired
occasions, the vacuum cleaner. We may even wipe off the
scummy film that builds up on the windows; then marvel
at the fresh view.
But with time and neglect, the natural order
returns, which is to say no order at all.
Lent (which means "Spring") is spring cleaning
for the soul. It's a time for us to sort, sift, clean,
and toss. It's an opportunity for us to admit that it is
not well with
our souls-at least not as well as we'd like. It's a
season for simplifying.
Most of us have little concept of moderation. We
over-work, over-eat, over-commit, and over-spend. We
insist that this is just modern life, hoping that our
souls will one day agree and be at peace. We can't
imagine coping or surviving without cable, computers,
and cell-phones. We keep buying toys, gadgets, and
"sales," hoping for distraction or happiness. We tell
ourselves that "upgrades" will improve our lives. They
We may have fleeting moments when this tail-chase
strikes us as futile; usually prompted by exhaustion,
sickness, or conflict. And we resolve that this madness
must stop, which it does until we feel better. How
ironic that "feeling better" usually catapults us back
onto the same path of self-destruction, the "slow and
Lent provides a regular, 46-day schedule each year,
to attend to the heart.
It's long. Could we not
just have a "spiritual spring clean weekend"? There's
too much going on over a month and a half to keep
focused on Lent. Ideally, we could squeeze it in between
But our spiritual clutter and junk has usually
spilled from the garage into the house, and in short
bursts all we can do is dust and re-arrange. Lent is for
methodically bagging stuff and tossing it in the
trash-the broken, unsafe, and unused.
Fasting throughout Lent serves multiple purposes. The
discipline creates a space for us to be attentive to God.
It confronts our never-say-no-to-ourselves lives. And
it challenges us to re-assess and re-order our spiritual
I'm no peeping-tom, but I like to look in other
people's windows, the windows to their souls.
Regrettably, most windows are covered with dust and
dirt, like my own. Perhaps this is a good time to break
out the Windex and wash cloths, the gloves and the
garbage bags. If we take it seriously (and prayerfully)
the whole house may begin to shine a little more by
In HOPE -