Spring is near – officially, only two and a half weeks away. Thus, the tradition of “spring-cleaning” is also upon us during this time of year. As the tradition goes, spring-cleaning requires a thorough examination of our homes – sweeping, polishing, and scrubbing all that has gathered in the cold of winter. Perhaps re-organizing our closets and cabinets; replacing the old with the new.
When done well, spring-cleaning requires time and dedication. There is the effort of replacing the winter coats in your closet with lighter jackets and raincoats. The carpet might require cleaning after the frosty dirt from winter boots has clung to it, becoming a part of the woven fabric. If you are one of those inspired homemakers, you might replace the décor of the home – warm greens and bright lavenders, and other colors of the season.
Yes, spring-cleaning requires effort. But the effort is rewarded more than in kind. From that old-time satisfaction that comes with work done by one’s hands, to the pride that comes with a well-kept home, to the less tangible experience of accepting a new season, prepared to receive all it has – good and bad.
But however difficult it is to crouch down and reach those dirty corners, or stand on small ladders to wipe that top shelf, or fold your winter apparel and place them in efficient storage containers, doing the same for your heart will require all the more diligence.
It is easy to see when a home needs to be cleaned and reorganized and put together (again). This is not always true of a heart. Of course it can be blatant – tears that are cried in silence and darkness, an unrelenting anxiety that paralyzes the thoughts of the brain and the body’s movement; chronic and continuous fear.
But far too often, between the mundanities and responsibilities of the day, the heart can go on, day after day, month after month, season after season, unattended. And we go on, indifferent.
Without malice, we tend to the appearance of life – as represented by our homes – while life itself – as represented by our hearts – suffer, and oftentimes suffer quietly. But our hearts need spring-cleaning too.
Our hearts need scrubbing, polishing, and sweeping. And we need it in the form of reflection, atonement, and forgiveness – forgiveness of others, forgiveness for ourselves. Our hearts need reorganizing and replacement – spending time deciding what we want to keep with us, and what we ought to discard. Our hearts need to be free from the anger that has clung, and the vices that have stayed. And indeed if we are inspired “heart-makers,” we bring in warmth and peace to replace our losses.
This effort of spring-cleaning our hearts is also rewarded more than in kind. With it comes the satisfaction of letting go, the pride of being an agent of change in one’s life, and that less tangible experience of accepting a renewed self, prepared to receive all this self brings – the good and the bad.