Even though we live in sunny Southern California, we still have a period of winter “hibernation”. Even though we don’t experience the seasons like in other parts of the country, we still have a “rebirth” when the sun is out and the temperatures are higher.
When these changes occur, something stirs within: the desire to tackle that dust we suddenly notice in places we seldom look. And those windows smeared with winter’s muck? And that disorganized closet? There’s a reason our grandmothers called it “spring housecleaning.” The season brings an almost physical desire to get out the mop.
Surprisingly, for the Christian steward, this can actually be a spiritual impulse.
There’s something intrinsically renewing and revitalizing about cleaning. Everything done with a prayerful heart can lead us closer to God, and cleaning, often a solitary and contemplative task, can definitely include prayer.
You might plan to begin your cleaning with prayer, and play music that lifts your spirit as you work.
Start with a closet. Open your heart to what it tells you about how blessed you are materially. But observe the consumerism a closet can reveal. As you examine each item of apparel, remember and thank God for the graces of the occasion: a wedding, a graduation, a vacation. Enjoy “shopping” in your own closet for items you’ve forgotten about. Pare down what you no longer need or what you feel called to share. Wash, mend, iron and select a place where your items may find a good home.
Many cities have refugee closets, and many nonprofits have thrift stores which support them. St. Vincent de Paul shops serve the poor with inexpensive used items. Pray for those with whom you are about to share. Resolve to put your newly reorganized items to work for you and not rush out to buy more.
And those windows? Does anything lift the spirit like a clean window after a long winter? As you polish those panes of glass, pray about where your own inner life could use a cleaning.
Perhaps you don’t make it to the Sacrament of Reconciliation as often as you’d like. Use your quiet window cleaning time to examine the graces and challenges of your life. Thank God for the many blessings and be honest about failings.
And that ubiquitous dust? It promises to return, afflicts the rich and the poor. It’s a sign of our universal connection to the earth and the environment, a reminder of our own mortality. Even the dust we clean can be lifted up to God with a thank you from a steward’s grateful heart.
Don’t forget to look outside yourself as well to the outside. Clean out those fallen leaves, trim back plants that didn’t make it through the winter, turn your sprinklers back on so your spring and summer yard can flourish.
Take this time—this long weekend is just the time to start—to look around you (and in you) and polish up the dirty corners!