A little vigilance can be a big help.
I don’t know how many people do spring cleaning anymore, but the idea makes a lot of sense; you have been more or less cooped up for a season and are preparing to start afresh in another. While the tasks themselves can be miserable affairs, there is such a wonderful sense of peace that comes after vacuuming behind the bed and scrubbing down the kitchen cabinets—all that dirt is gone! The tricky part, however, is keeping the place clean after the deep cleaning.
Our souls present us with a similar problem. Lent is a “deep cleaning” for our souls. Easter comes—its glory, life, and freshness mirrored by the natural world. But about a week after Easter, what happens to our “house?” How easy it is to slip back into our old habits!
What to do about it? A little vigilance can be a big help.
In my room, for instance, after I have have done some serious triage and tidying, I am careful to put clothes away immediately; it would be SO easy to just throw my sweatshirt over the back of the chair, but if I give in to temptation once, the next thing I know, my chair is loaded down with items, papers have exploded all over my desk, and my shoes are tumbling about on the floor.
Just as being on the lookout for physical messes can help to preserve order and cleanliness in the home, so can vigilance against spiritual clutter preserve peace and joy in the soul.
Here are some “personal housekeeping” tips to keep the temple of the Holy Spirit fresh and free of clutter in the coming months:
1. Be still.
Spring often brings a wave of chaos and that wave usually carries right into summer. Don’t get caught up in it. I am constantly accosted by the words of Psalm 46: “Be still, and know that I am God.” It is OK to be still! If you have a minute of free time, resist the urge to check email, Facebook, the news, etc. It is difficult, but BE that person in the waiting room at the dentist’s office who isn’t staring into a screen.
2. Be silent.
If we never turn off the noise, how can we expect to hear God? Try to turn off the world and tune into God sometimes—turn off the music, TV, cell phone and listen to the silence. I’m not saying never listen to the radio or don’t call your long-distance friends, but remember that too much noise can drown out the most important things. By the way, did you know that the birds make beautiful music?
This moment is the one that God is asking you to live right now—not yesterday, not tomorrow, not an hour and 45 minutes from now. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you feel? Your senses have the ability to ground you in the present moment, the moment in which God is offering to you an ocean of love and mercy. Enjoy the sunset, the fresh-cut grass, the breeze on your cheeks, and praise Him through your existence in the moment. Note to self: checklists and schedules are made for me, not the other way around.
If we know how to be still, silent, and alive in the moment, if we are aware of our manner of life, we will be more likely to keep our houses clean. Free of interior clutter and distraction, we can cooperate with God’s grace to jealously guard our souls against anything that would crowd out His Word.
On that note, a final tip:
4. Worthily receive Communion.
Receive Him into your clean (free of mortal sin) soul, which you’d like to carefully maintain. It is an excellent way to draw strength and courage to preserve that Easter peace and joy!