“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Verse 11 of Psalm 51, one of the great penitential Psalms of the Bible. The immediate concern of the Psalmist is being cleansed of sin. But the idea of a “clean heart” and “renewed spirit” has a wider resonance.
Our journey of faith is a journey: we’re a-goin’, from one place to another—and to another and another. Which means leaving places, leaving some things behind.
A clean heart and renewed spirit can mean a kind of spring cleaning and refurbishing of the rooms of our minds, a kind of spiritual reordering and redecorating. The clutter can get clutterier and clutterier: we can end up with all kinds of stuff in our heads that “doesn’t spark joy”. We may need to do some serious sweeping up and sweeping out. Furnishings that once seemed so fresh become dated. Colors fade. Dust bunnies pile up in the corners of our minds. Sometimes it means a wholesale pitching things out and starting over. Or that favorite old Victorian sofa might look really good with a fresh new fabric.
Lent is a good time to take stock of the furnishings of our hearts and minds. A good time to hang on to what still “sparks joy” (that turn of phrase is from Marie Kondo, author of the best seller about de-cluttering and reorganizing). Lent is a good time for fresh directions, new paths, new spiritual furnishings.A good time to get out the brooms and mops, check out fabric swatches and color charts. Read a new book or two, try out a new direction, some new spiritual practice. Maybe it’s time to travel abroad, spiritually speaking…
One thing we can be very sure of in life: wherever we are is not where we’re going. It may be a good place to be, and we can thank God for that. But God always has more in mind.
Create in us clean hearts, O God, and renew our minds. Help us to make room for the new things you desire for us. And show us the fresh pathways of your spring time Spirit.
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