Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
M’s dad died last Monday. Exactly one week after he was referred to Hospice, he took his last breath surrounded by friends and family. It was hard for M. and her family to let him go, but they rejoice that they will see him again. The service was a wonderful, celebratory experience full of music and laughter. The next day, we attended the funeral service for my friend’s grandson. It, too, contained a message of hope. What struck me most about both services was the resolve expressed by all the speakers to live life to the fullest, to care more for each other, to celebrate life while we have it and to let go of the hurt and bitterness that many of us carry around like excess weight. I had much to think about when I left the two churches. While I reflect on how my inner being can be made clean and fresh, I also faced a task of cleaning out the garage. In the last few months, with youngest son’s going and oldest son’s coming, the garage, particularly “my” side where my glass workbench and kiln are housed became clutterd with other people’s stuff. Boxes even lined my workbench, and car parts rested on top of my kiln. I am participating in a local craft show next month and while my intent is to mostly sell books, I thought I would take some glass heart pendants with me to raise money for Orphans Heart. But, before I can make any hearts, I had to clear a place to work. Soon, coolers, lifejackets, dog blankets, bicycles, car parts, paint cans, tools, dive fins and fishing gear were spread out over the yard like I was preparing for a garage sale. As my workbench and kiln emerged, I found a lot of rat and roach droppings and nesting materials that had to be cleaned out. Something had even chewed up a diamond bit polishing block! Finally, my craft space was clean and ready to be used again. But, before I could do what I intended on doing, I had to call the other occupants of my house and get them to identify what they wanted to keep and what could go in the trash. Well, not really the trash, because in our neighborhood if you just set it on the street a few days before the garbage man comes, most of it magically disappears. Putting the things to be kept away required cleaning out the storage shed of old Christmas decorations and rusted dog crates, but by about 4:30, it was time to start hauling junk to the road. Husband and oldest son made one trip and before they could get back with another load, people were already picking through things. Our neighbor even claimed some items before they passed through the gate! I had to stand in the garage for a while before I went in to cook supper and admire the clean, tidy space. We never know when our last day on earth will come. What in your life needs to be cleaned up and tidied? Not physical space, but in relationships. Are there words that need to be spoken or forgiven? Are there expressions of love that need to be made? You will be amazed at how much lighter you feel to get rid of that old junk that’s taking up extra space in your heart.