In just the past few days, the world outside my window has burst into bloom. A little tree filled with red blossoms is backed by a host of trees in various shades of green. The little azalea plant the mail carrier trods on when it’s snow-covered still has buds. A woodpecker hammers a telephone pole. All is fresh. Now that the earth is renewed, I was motivated to renew my house and yard. The steps I took to accomplish this have parallels with our lives.
First, I realized that I am a hoarder. Every carton, large and small, delivered to me during the past ten years I tossed into the attic for future use. My nephew the fireman would faint if he saw the collection. Large bags were stuffed with styrofoam packing peanuts and other packing material. And drawers and boxes held reams of half clean paper intended for copying my manuscripts…which nowadays are only on computer files. So the cardboard and paper went into recycling bins, and the peanuts and 50 pieces of cardboard shaped like book covers found a home in a school. The house is streamlined; time to streamline my life. For one thing, my body could shed a few pounds! Then there are the superfluous activities that fill up my days. Do I really need to read all those novels and watch that many DVDs? In addition, my mind has a store of bad memories like hurts and failures. No need to dwell on them. Throw them out.
My backyard was littered with deadwood, literally. I stacked the tree limbs (some six feet long) and branches behind the garage and filled two large bags with hundreds of twigs. Is there a relationship that has expired and is ruining the landscape and beauty of my life? Is a project not bearing fruit and wasting my time?
I polished furniture, my cross, and the wood floor so they look their best. If I take care of myself, I too will “shine.” Time to make appointments—for a physical, an eye exam, a dental check-up, a haircut, maybe a hearing test. Oh, and confession.
Windows decorated with smears, dust, and fingerprints need washing; otherwise we don’t see clearly through them. The world looks dingy and blurred. In this era of alternative truths and fake news, let’s pray that we and other Americans have 20-20 vision when it comes to distinguishing the truth.
This is the month for the Big Switch, when heavy winter clothing is put away and light, colorful spring garb is unearthed. What should be disposed of because it is old, torn, stained, not worn in a long time, or hasn’t fit for the past ten years and probably never will? Getting detached, not only from clothing but from other things, is liberating. There’s less to clean, less to keep track of, and less to move around. On the spiritual level, we can also become detached, especially from something harmful such as a bad habit, an addiction, a bad influence.
During this Easter season when nature is renewed and when we celebrate that Jesus has brought forth a new creation, let’s celebrate life by cleaning up and renewing our lives. After all, as St. Irenaeus famously said, “The glory of God is a person fully alive.” Just as the glorious world during springtime proclaims the glory of God, so can we.
What have you done so far this spring to purge your life and renew it?
BOOK REVIEW People of God’s Mercy: What 14 figures from Scripture reveal about Divine Compassion
Marci Alborghetti Twenty-Third Publications $14.95
In the document announcing our Year of Mercy, the Holy Father wrote: ““We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace.” The book People of God’s Mercy assists us in doing just that. Each chapter in this book hones in on a particular person in the Bible who has experienced God’s mercy or offered it to someone.
In the first part of the chapter the person relates his or her story, complete with the thoughts and feelings Alborghetti supposes must have occurred during the events. The second part of the chapter relates the biblical person to our own lives. For example, the murder Cain commits is akin to the anger we harbor occasionally; the jealousy of Leah mirrors our jealousy. Other characters a chapter is devoted to include Martha and, of course, Peter.
The first-person accounts make for intriguing reading, while the reflections are practical and can be taken to heart. Questions for personal consideration conclude each chapter.
Some theologians consider mercy the greatest of God’s attributes. When we practice mercy, we are more Godlike. This book offers insights into the meaning of mercy.