March 8, 2021
During this past year of pandemic and politics, I admit that I have not accomplished the numerous projects I’ve heard other people claim during this “stay at home” time. I have not repainted a single room. I have not learned a new language. I have not come to love cooking, especially after doing it three times a day for a year. I most definitely have not lost any weight. In many respects, I feel like I’ve been treading water instead, trying to stay afloat, dodging the tidal waves of illness, sorrow, division, hatred, judgment, violence, fear, and anger—sometimes cresting a wave, other times getting pulled under, but somehow miraculously staying afloat.
Now, in March, in the Christian season of Lent (the Germanic origin simply means springtime), I find myself surrounded by clutter. The yard needs weeding, re-mulching, and general tidying while the house could use a good scrubbing top to bottom. It’s time to wash out the empty flower pots on my deck and decide how to fill them this spring when everything was so limited last year. My study, my sacred space, has transformed into a jungle of piles of books and papers and journals. I find myself seeking space and simplicity, some breathing room, some emptiness.
Spiritually, it’s no coincidence that Lent coincides with springtime. These seasons of introspection and reversal beckon us to clear out the clutter of our hearts, just as tradition and the turn of the seasons invite us to do a bit of spring cleaning. The ancient prophet Joel told his people to rend their hearts, not their garments, as they turned away from themselves and back toward God. It is the deep cleansing, not the surface appearance, that truly transforms us. When I imagine rending my heart, I see it being torn open so that all the clutter that distracts me from space and simplicity spills out. Just as weeds take root and books fill up floor space, so negativity, anxiety, comparisons, grudges, and even self-righteousness can fill up our hearts so that there is no room for Divine Love to dwell, or simply to sit a while for a cup of tea.
So as I turn toward what in my home needs some loving attention and I begin to de-clutter and create space, I hope to do so with my heart in mind. I want all that is not-Love to spill out, especially the built-up drudge and ashes from the past 12 months. With each pot I wash, I also wash my heart. With each book I re-shelve, or let go, I let go of what no longer needs to take up room in my heart. While I wash windows, I open my heart to the Light. As the space on my desk opens up, I invite my heart to do the same and reclaim its own spaciousness which always births creativity. My prayer is that when the time comes to open the windows and allow the spring breeze to flow through my home, ruach, that ancient breath of new beginnings, will find a welcome space. Blessings to you ~ Rosemary