"Ashes are an ancient symbol of repentance (sackcloth and ashes). They also remind us of our mortality ("remember that you are dust") and thus of the day when we will stand before God and be judged. This can be linked easily to the death and resurrection motif of Baptism. To prepare well for the day we die, we must die now to sin and rise to new life in Christ. Being marked with ashes at the beginning of Lent indicates our recognition of the need for deeper conversion of our lives during this season of renewal."Who doesn't need a deeper conversion, right? Even when I'm at the top of my game I'm fully aware of how flawed and broken I am. Ironically though, this last Wednesday I was far from the top of my game, swimming around in ashy reminders of my mortality. One bad choice after another, double-booking myself, forgetting to feed my kids (psh--like I could really get away with that one)... I can't think of what else. There was an overall dizziness to this last week that really threw me for a loop. I have to partly blame it on (how do I say this, I don't usually talk about these things on the blog...plumbing? lady issues? "that time of the month?")... well, let's just say that after birthing five kids, it hits me like a Tsunami; hardly a warning sign, only seconds to prepare, complete devastation and disorientation, casualties. (Sorry, but when I go through something traumatic, the whole world is going to know about it; it's how I cope.) It's usually too late that I realize a few iron supplements and some extra water would've saved me from a slew of mistakes made.
This Ash Wednesday was a particular low point and I thought a lot about Lent. What a perfect way to start off, sackcloth and ashes! I thought a lot about the purging I plan to do, and why. I didn't let it overwhelm me; I don't have to make a plan, it doesn't have to be some Extreme Home Makeover. I have a lot of regular chores that keep me busy (I know, "duh" right?), as much as I'd like to dive full into purging the junk from my house. But to make "purging goals" and fret about meeting deadlines would be to miss the point. The point, I am reminding myself, is to see God more clearly without distractions, to make room for God's plan, and to allow for His providence. What's that verse... Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 I'm trying to focus less on making plans, but rather on looking harder, listening more intently so that I might clue into the Lord's purpose, and be present with what He's put on my heart during Lent.
And to take an iron supplement when the tsunami hits and my head gets all spinny and stupid.
The Purge Report:
- I sold some books at Powells, and gained a gift card! This is awesome because I love to give people presents, but we can't really put that in the budget right now.
- I took some stuff to the thrift store. A lot of stuff. Stuff I won't miss.
- The recycling was taken away. Good riddance!
- Korah and I returned some earrings that had been a re-gift from my mom (I know she will love this) and with the money, bought a great gift for Korah's best friend's birthday, some sunglasses for me, and a pretty candle that matches our house perfectly. We traded in a burden that had been sitting on the counter for a year for things that are totally making us happy! I love it!
- And this after we labored over how best to spend her gift card at Claire's. I had to throw that in there; I love opportunities to teach my kids about money, delayed gratification and making good choices. She was really proud of her purchase in the end!
- I tackled the 5-drawer monster filing cabinet, weeding out Kid Art and homework from the last 5 years (saving the best in a special art box), two drawers of obsolete computer games and manuals and such, framed awards and plaques from long ago employers, 3 years of consumer reports magazines, 4 binders (two of which were How to Have a Baby manuals from the hospital--whatever!), and many other useless pieces of paper.
- I put a semi-working vacuum on the corner and someone took it (sorry, someone! I hope you can fix/use it!)
- Korah and I tackled her desk...woo-wee! Lotsa stuff in there! She even had a Box o' Junk (that's what she called it) she's collected. Little treasures that would give you tetanus. You know. (Thank goodness she's over that collecting phase!) When we were done we had a whole bag of recycling, a whole bag of trash, and a few things to add to her special art box (see above). She has a special place to store her homework when she's not working on it, and best of all, "her own space" has been reclaimed! There's a desk to work at, an empty drawer to store her purse in... it's wonderful. She feels lighter and happier, and so do I.
Unfortunately I don't have pictures of all this. I still don't have a working camera, and most of this stuff was squirreled away, and it's going to be a while before a big visual difference is seen. But for me, finally being proactive is priceless.