At the start of Lent, I wrote how much I needed it this year. I needed that special time to fast and sacrifice and focus on my relationship with God. I also took on a challenge with my home – to get 40 bags worth of stuff out of my house. While many around me questioned whether I could accomplish that goal, I persevered. I marshaled the help of my family members. One item at a time, one bag at a time, four trips to my local donation center later, the mission was completed Holy Saturday. I would like to say that my house is now spotless, that we are free of clutter and now living a minimalist lifestyle. The sad reality is that my house is still rather cluttered. In fact, someone walking into it probably wouldn’t notice much difference at all. There are still a couple things I need to get rid of, but that won’t do much for the clutter, either.
Most of the stuff I got rid of was stuff that was hidden away. There were so many things in closets and cabinets and that catch-all of places, my basement. Going through it all was like doing a review of my life. I had done a large purge five years ago when I moved, but in some ways, this one was more thorough. I was forced to truly evaluate each item, whether it still had any value to me, if it could serve someone else better, or if I just needed to throw it in the recycling bin (as much as I might like to think otherwise, there is no one on earth that needs to read papers I wrote in college.) I wondered why I was so determined to do this now. Why was this the right time? I’m still not sure. It did help with one thing. When my basement flooded Holy Thursday morning thanks to all the rain my corner of the world received recently, it didn’t do hardly any damage. Nothing was ruined because that area of my basement was already cleaned out! That was a blessing in and of itself. Was there some greater purpose? That I don’t know.
Yet, I can’t help but think that this cleaning project was a metaphor for my soul. In Lent, I got rid of some major things. I did a lot of soul cleaning and refocusing my priorities. I went to confession twice. I knelt down in prayer and begged for direction. I would like to say all the clutter is gone, that my soul is now a prime example of cleanliness. It’s not. Forty days later and much like my house, I’m still a mess. I’m a little better for the effort. Perhaps some of the things that were hidden in the deep recesses have been cleared out. Thirty-five years of life have led to a lot of build-up. There are all those things that I have just buried away, perhaps waiting for a better time to deal with them, or I simply wasn’t ready to let go. Some things I’m still holding onto. Just as with my physical dwelling, the process is far from complete.
So, here I am, 40 days later. Easter was meaningful this year, much more so than in some other years. Every year Lent brings its own unique experience. Maybe I was looking for too much, both with my house and my soul. After all, 40 days is only 40 days. Yet, I made some progress. I need to be thankful for that and know that this is something I can keep working on.
Copyright 2010 Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur