Wiping away flecks and spots of dirt, sweeping up dust, putting every last toy and piece of laundry and utensil in its place--the thoroughness and the ritual of it soothe my spirit. This is why Lent is my favorite liturgical season. It's the time for taking what's messy in my life and putting it right again.
One thing I'm learning this year, though, is that Lent is more than just a season for cleaning up. Cleaning can become a seductive and deeply deceptive mode of self-hiding. When a diamond sparkles radiantly, one hardly notices the imperfections beneath its surface.
One of my personal challenges is to let the messiness remain when I'd rather not, so I can look upon myself with less contentment and greater scrutiny. Otherwise my superficial sparkle might distract me--and those who support me--from what needs more care than a dust-rag can offer.