So it’s Lent.
A season which is confusing at best.
For me, anyway.
My first exposure to Lent and the longest lasting impression of the season for me is one of giving something up.
That was in college when I had a friend who was Catholic. So we all gave up something. (Ummm, in most cases, I think it was chocolate.) It was interesting too, because there was the debate of whether or not Sundays counted as part of Lent.
After college, I found my way back to the Episcopal church, where Lenten traditions were observed, and yes, we gave up something, and Sundays did not count. I gave up sweet tea (clutch my pearls and gasp), which was VERY significant and a challenge for me. Rather than keeping the tea in the house, on Saturday afternoons, I would ride to town and pick up an extra-large (read half-gallon or some ridiculous amount like that) of sweet tea from Dairy Queen (closed on Sundays) and tote it back home and keep it in the frigidaire until Sunday. It lasted me all day. Oh my land,, with all that sugar it should have lasted me a week.
Then there were years I gave up chewing gum. Another nail biter. But I made it. Then there were years that I gave up eating meat during the daylight hours. That was interesting, especially when I’d go to Mama’s and she made her “green pizza”–spinach quiche with bacon on top. She would either make me one without the bacon or she’d pick the pieces off my slice. Mama was like that. Supporting whatever I had going on.
It was important that I did something each day to focus on the season. In more recent years, I’ve struggled with healthy eating. I found out during a book study where we limited what we ate that, while I do not have an eating disorder, it’s best not to mess too much with my eating habits. It’s a rocky slope.
And so I don’t. I enjoyed reading the thoughts of a friend about Lent (it’s a must read–you’re welcome), as in we need to create space for what is coming, much like a bird does with a nest. That I can get on board with. That is exactly what I need this year. Creating space. Quieting my spirit. My mind and my heart open. Yes.
A work in progress, but I’m embracing it.
Some folks are taking the forty days of Lent to get rid of 40 bags of stuff. That’s ambitious, and I’m impressed. It terrifies my pack rat, semi-hoarding sentimental self, but for those of you attempting it, you go! I’m proud for you. A couple of weeks ago, I finished emptying out a storage unit of things from Mama’s, and then we cleaned up a LOT of stuff (read “we only had a path from the door of the garage to the door of the house” *ack!*) from our garage. So Imma have to rest on my laurels from that one for a little while, realize I’m okay without all of that stuff, and then I’ll be ready to tackle another pile or closet. But it probably won’t happen during Lent.
And I’m okay with that.
The thing about cleaning out our homes and our souls is that a lot of it is trash, isn’t it? So often it’s not really anything anyone else can use, even though we surely want to recycle it and pass it on. Sometimes deliberately (with a sad, tired pair of shoes or that Chia pet we never opened) and sometimes not so much (passing on the ugliness and hurt we’ve been feeling). But it’s still trash.
Nobody wants that Chia pet.
I’m just saying.
Or that hurt and pain either.
Let it go, folks.
Hugh Hollowell shared about some things that had been “donated” to Love Wins, “a ministry of presence and pastoral care for the homeless and at-risk population of Raleigh, NC.” (Chia pet included. I can’t even.) His friends and folks who cared commented, sharing things that well-intentioned people had donated to their missions–expired food items, used bars of soap, used underwear, torn up furniture.
Y’all. For the love.
So as we clean out our hearts and minds and spirits and closets, let’s remember to let the trash go. All the brokenness and broken things we’ve tucked away and can do without, so can everyone else. I’m all about sharing the joy and hugs and encouragement and items in gently-used condition (I love me some thrift shops, y’all know), but sometimes folks are better off if we just toss it in a bag and take it to the dump. Literally and figuratively.
Others, especially those hurting from their own stories, shouldn’t have to deal with our rubbish.
May we all find something wonderful–joy, a smile, kind words, a pair of gloves, or a much-loved, still lovely blanket–to share with another today. It’s all about building that nest. To have room for what’s coming.
Love to all.