This past weekend we participated in a beautiful Corpus Christi presentation.
It was a lovely, prayerful procession — a great reminder of Christ’s promise that He would be with us always, until the end of the world. He was with us — and it was beautiful.
It reminded me of the beauty of our faith. All the “smells and bells” of Catholicism, the procession, the people, the church building itself — they’re incredibly important.
God made the physical world good, and He has redeemed it through His presence.
This is especially true in the Eucharist: simple bread and wine become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of God. Amazing!
And after a peaceful procession and reception, a phone call came in. The police were on the way to our house because our front door was wide open.
I must admit, I don’t know what was more frightening — the thought of encountering an axe murderer in our house or knowing that a stranger would be seeing the absolute disaster that was our second floor. 🙁
To be fair, my daughter’s room was immaculate — but the rest of the upstairs looked like a crime scene — and that was before any would-be thief even entered the picture.
So we drove up our hill and watched this 6-1/2 foot tall man approach our car in his combat boots and bullet proof gear. He told us to wait while he cleared our house.
After what seemed to be ages, he came walking out of our house. He remarked that we had a lovely home and he could tell that we were Catholic. He was so gracious that he didn’t really seem to notice the mess.
We found ourselves laughing and talking like friends — because we had our faith in common — and we thanked him for his service and watched him walk away.
And then I walked into my house and looked at all the debris that had piled up over one weekend. On Friday, our house was clean. By Sunday, it looked like a bunch of insane people had taken residence. : (
It was scary how quickly the clutter had piled up.
Stuff — necessary to a point — but then it can become a burden. Nice for a while, but it always ends up sapping me of time, strength, and mental energy when I am surrounded by it.
It reminded me of a dream I once had. I know it has meaning for my life and it seemed to fit what I was feeling in that moment.
In this dream, I was sitting on a chair in a valley, surrounded by cheap trinkets and plastic junk — the kind of stuff you find at a dollar store. And Jesus was up above on a beautiful, peaceful plateau looking down on the mess that surrounded me.
There was a 90 degree pitch to the cliff that separated me from Jesus — and He was reaching down for me. He was taking pity on me. He wanted to help.
But the problem was, I was only reaching out to Jesus with one hand. The other hands was reaching behind me trying to pick up some cheap plastic trinket — a peace of garbage, really — instead of putting my full focus on Christ and what He was offering to me.
And in my dream, I knew the only way I could actually make it to Jesus was to stop reaching behind me for this crap and put both hands in Jesus’ hands and let Him pull me up.
But for some reason, I just couldn’t stop reaching for that cheap plastic trinket that was behind me.
And then I woke up.
I knew in my heart what that dream meant. I was holding onto crap that was keeping me from Christ. I knew that God was offering me something beautiful — and I was choosing the cheap plastic crap instead.
What was wrong with me?
I firmly believe environment is important. I’ve noticed a relationship between an ordered house and an ordered mind. The less clutter the better.
At the same time, I’ve grown to accept that the clutter that comes in living a full and busy life with 6 kids is a part of my path to holiness.
Jesus calls for mortification, “dying to self” as a pathway to true freedom — and I know few things more mortifying than being surrounded by the mess that comes with a full life with kids.
And let’s just be honest: creative kids are just messier. I want my kids to live creative lives, and I have to accept that it’s a whole lot messier than staring at screens all day long.
So I’ve had to lower my expectations when it comes to a clean house.
But, I’ve also found that when you have too much stuff, you just can’t keep a house clean — those toddlers and 4 year olds have a way of taking everything out of the closets and drawers and decimating a place faster than you can clean it up.
So every summer I spend a few weeks trying to pare down, donate, and throw out what can’t be salvaged. With every bag that leaves my house, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me.
I’ve been preparing for my yearly summer overhaul — but I’ve decided it’s going to be different this year. While I clear away the clutter, I’m going to meditate on what needs to be removed from my heart and mind as well.
Getting rid of stuff is a good thing — but the clutter of the heart and mind is far more important. I have allowed myself to get distracted with so many things that just don’t matter in the end — and I’ve neglected the things that do matter.
And as embarrassing as it was that this very sweet, giant of a man had to walk through my house and see my clutter — it left me wondering about my heart and that dream I had so long ago.
If somebody could look into my heart, what would they find there? Would I be embarrassed by what they see? It’s good to worry about the clutter in my house, but what about the clutter in my soul?
Because you know, God sees those things.
In fact, He chooses to dwell in the midst of those things in our hearts. Have you ever thought about what poor Jesus has to put up with in dwelling inside of your heart?
Have you given Him room to breathe and move and act in your soul? If not, maybe it’s time to clear away the clutter so Jesus has room to move in you.
Each summer, as I clear that clutter out of my home, I find there’s a part of me that wants to hold onto things — just in in case I need it in the future.
Yes, sometimes good stewardship means holding on to some things — but there’s also a “hoarder” in us who doesn’t quite believe God will provide if we don’t pad our bank accounts and our closets with stuff that makes us feel safe and provided for.
If you’re holding on to “things” because you don’t quite trust Jesus can take care of you — maybe it’s time to be honest with yourself and just let it go.
Take that leap. Dare to go deeper. Dare to trust in a God who loves you and is waiting for you to let it all go and put your hands in His.
He’s waiting to bring you to a beautiful place, if only you’d leave the things of the world behind, put both hands in His and let Him pull you closer to Him.
And I think I already know some of the clutter that distracts me from Jesus.
But I’m guessing there’s more that hasn’t even occurred to me — it’s the stuff that I haven’t faced in my own heart that just might surprise me.
And I’m guessing that maybe you have that clutter too — and maybe you’re ready to stare it straight in the face and get rid of it, too.
And the “forgotten” clutter can be more damaging than the obvious ones.
Lack of forgiveness, envy, hatred, pride, refusing to do the good that you could do — they might be dragging you down far more than those sins you find yourself confessing regularly.
They might take real effort to discover in your heart, but that digging deep will lead to a freedom from things that you may not even be aware are dragging you down.
A good place to begin is confession. If you have a good priest who can help you begin the “decluttering”, all the better.
And then go to the silence of adoration and ask God what you need to let go of in your life. What is holding you back? What is the stumbling block that is keeping you from God.
Just remember, whenever you begin to try to get rid of a mess, things usually get worse before they get better.
You might have to pull out things that you’ve stuffed down into the deepest recesses of your heart. So be prepared for the mess and know it’s part of the process.
It’s going to take time. It might be painful, but it’s going to be worth it in the end.
I know now is the time for me to begin. Maybe it’s time for you as well.
“Behold, now is the time of favor; now is the day of salvation!”
~2 Corinthians 6:2~
Linking up with Kelly.