After a short break from work, I chatted with a colleague upon returning to work and she told me about her "spring cleaning" activities right after Easter.
What about the modern spiritual dimensions of a spring cleaning ritual? What would this inner process of clearing and cleansing look like? What might we do beyond eating cleansing foods, drinking lots of clean water, or engaging in ritual deep breathing and prayer processes after Lent?
I am working on clearing people and thoughts away from me that reflect something too old to use or learn from or no longer consistent with the person I am choosing to be. That is my major spring cleaning ritual this year. Of course, there are some covenant relationships I cannot simply walk away from. Even in those situations, I can choose and filter how I respond to how people behave towards me and towards their responsibilities.
How do I clear away harmful people and processes? As a beginning, I will take to heart Jesus' advice to be "as innocent as a dove and as wise as a serpent" because, as He put it, He was sending His apostles out as sheep in the midst of wolves." (Read this in Matthew 10:16).
How often are we used or taken advantage of because we (as Christians) believe we must not call wolves what they truly are---wolves--and must not acknowledge the harm and damage they can do and strive to avoid that harm and damage? Even in the presence of wolves, we can remain "innocent" if we choose not to imitate their habits and put ourselves under their power. Innocence does not mean refusing to see or acknowledge what is evil, damaging, and wrong. Innocence means refusing to engage in the process of evil to achieve our ends. We do not remain innocent by refusing to see wolves for what they are.
Knowing this frees me to remove certain people and ways of thinking from my space, my life energy, and my thoughts.
Next, I allow God to speak to me -- through prayer, meditation, Bible study, community worship, and devotional reading -- and tell me how I must replace the people and thoughts that have "dirtied" my space. Wisdom and experience have taught me I cannot rely only upon my own insights in this area.
How should I spend my newly freed time? Whose number should disappear from the phone and whose number should take its place? What films, music, and books need to disappear from the player and my shelves? What old patterns of thinking about money, hobbies, work, and life no longer support the person I am choosing to become? How much of this do I need to write down and refer to daily? Whose prayers and support will I seek as I make and sustain these changes? How will I listen for God's direction and correction as I make these changes?
This spring cleaning is a lot of work. I am ready to get going!