Don’t ya just love it when the house is all clean and everything is in place? I love the feeling that I get after I have spent some time cleaning and organizing things around the house or the office. It evokes a feeling of being centered and at peace. Some say that the state of one’s home is a reflection of their inner state. I tend to think that’s true, at least of me.
Sometimes we’ve got to clean house. And sometimes we’re forced into cleaning house.
At one time, Jesus cleaned house in a major way. He was quite PO’d at the way people had cluttered the Temple with things that hindered people’s connection with the Divine. He angrily drove out the merchants and money changers.
Sometimes we need to clear out interior clutter, behaviors that get in the way of our connection with God and one another. Sometimes we need to literally clean out the temple that is our body by removing toxic substances that can harm our health. Sometimes we need to “clear the air” in our relationships, take time to talk through issues so that we can begin to dance in step together again.
Sometimes we are forced into cleaning house. Life circumstances come upon us like a fire and we are forced to look within, to begin again. As I prayed yesterday morning, I read a meditation by Melody Beattie in her book of daily meditations entitled More Language of Letting Go. In this meditation she described the wildfires that yearly scorch parts of the earth. She described a particular fire one year that threatened some archeological sites in Colorado. They were able to contain the fire and save the sites, and, as a result of the undergrowth in another area being burned off, they discovered twelve other sites. She went on to say that sometimes Life throws a fire at us, but those fires have the possibility of pointing us in new directions and taking us to places of growth that otherwise we would not have imagined (see p.87-88). Wildfires are the very things that burn off the clutter of undergrowth and encourage new growth.
Is there some house cleaning that you need to do? Do it. It will lead to good things.
Jonah 3: 1-10
If someone told you that if you didn’t stop doing something you would soon be dead, would you stop doing that thing which is destroying you? I think most of us, if given the chance would indeed stop and choose to live! Jonah called out to the people, telling them that if they didn’t change they would soon be dead; and the people quickly turned from their death dealing ways and chose life.
Most of the time, we don’t have a Jonah though. We don’t have someone telling us to stop some negative pattern of behavior so that we might experience the best Life has to offer. Or if we do, we take their call to us as a personal affront, instead of seeing it as a gesture of love and concern for our well being. Most of the time we go about our negative habits or patterns of thinking or behavior totally denying how they are affecting us and those around us.
Don’t you want to really live? Don’t you want to get out there and drink life in?
When we’re caught in some bad habit, some negative pattern it literally sucks the life out of us, doesn’t it? Think about some negative thinking you might have, some negative behavior, some ingrained bad habit. Doesn’t it sap the life out of you, not to mention those around you?
I believe that God wants us to live, wants us to drink life in and get rid of those things that hold us from doing just that. Lent then really isn’t about gloom and doom. It’s about rising from the graves that we’ve built for ourselves. It’s about naming the lie that this or that behavior is going to make me feel better; when in reality it’s sucking the life out of me! It’s about letting go of that which has kept us mired in winter’s lifelessness. It’s about taking some small step away from something which is killing us or those around us and stepping into a new springtime of living!
I recently heard a talk in which the speaker described an animal that had been born in a zoo. After some years they built a multi-million dollar display, simulating the natural habitat for the animal, thinking that it would create a better, happier space for the animal. When it was released into its new space, much to their surprise, it stayed to one small area. It only walked the same path over and over, creating a rut in the ground, which got deeper as time went on. The animal had all this beautiful space, but it stayed in that one little rut and didn’t roam elsewhere! The speaker went on to say: aren’t we like that sometimes? We get in a rut, doing and thinking the same things over and over – missing so much of what could be if we just got out of the rut.
If you’ve read my last couple of meditations, you’ll know that I spoke of Lent as an opportunity to “get naked” to remove the “cloak” that holds us from being more present to life, to others and to God. When we, with the help of a Power greater than ourselves, remove whatever that is and stand naked in life, present, alive and aware – we get outa the rut and into the groove!
Suddenly, we begin to live again! Suddenly we look around and see so much of life around us. We slowly crawl out of that rut and begin, perhaps fearfully at first, to wander out into the beauty that we have been missing. All that beauty, all those people, all those possibilities suddenly open up before us – because we have had the courage to name that which keeps us all bound up, because we have had the courage to call on a Power greater than ourselves to free us.
Have you named the cloak that you need to remove, the cloak that keeps you separated from life, from others and from God? Have you called on a Higher Power to help you, trusting that the help WILL come? Is the cloak beginning to fall away?
Are you getting out of the rut, and into the groove?
I recently heard a wonderful conference in which the speaker used the example of the blind man Bartimaeus (Mark 10: 46-52) who cries out to Jesus “I want to see!” Two things that the presenter said about this story struck me that have bearing on my living and on the season of Lent.
First, notice that in the story many people tell Bartimaeus to be quiet! They try to shut him up! They don’t like what he’s saying. After all, according to the prevalent thought of the day, Bartimaeus would have been considered a “sinner,” an outsider, a nobody – someone to shun and avoid. He certainly would have held no status in the religious establishment. Notice what Bartimaeus does after being told to shut up. He speaks even louder!
Sometimes the institution, be it church, society, political, the workplace, family or friends – sometimes the institution tries to shut people up. Like Bartimaeus though, I pray for the courage to only speak louder! Notice too that Jesus does not shun Bartimaeus. If anything he ignores the people telling Bartimaeus to shut up, but looks with compassion upon Bartimaeus.
Secondly, notice what Bartimaeus does when Jesus calls him over. He removes his cloak and runs to Jesus – buck naked!! He removes anything which would hold him from being fully present to Jesus and to others.
This Lent, what “cloak” do I need to remove? What is it that keeps me from being fully present to God and others? It could be a variety of things from an addiction, to a negative attitude, to fear, a poor self image, self centeredness, etc. What needs to be removed so that I can be more fully alive and present to Life and others? In what way do I need to get naked?