Making Space - Sparking Joy

 "I have a need
of such a clearance
as the Saviour effected in the temple of Jerusalem
a riddance of the clutter
of what is secondary
that blocks the way

to the all-important central emptiness

which is filled

with the presence of God alone."
-Jean Danielou, quoted in Lost in Wonder by Esther de Waal

I've just finished reading the excellent book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japenese Art of De-Cluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo, which is based on the principle of only keeping items that "spark joy."  So on Monday, I began with my clothes, (all of them, in a huge, terrifying pile) and after some breathing exercises and a phone call to a wise friend I dove in.  I lifted each item and asked, "Does this spark joy?" And if it didn't, I thanked it for its service to me and let it go.

Before (in frightening panoramic)

There was something shockingly vulnerable, and then surprisingly spiritually cleansing about this practice, and the way it made me pay attention.  Now, instead of bins of summer clothes under the bed and things I no longer wear stuffed in the back of drawers, a single wardrobe of clothing that feels like an inviting gift to open up greets me in the morning.  

It's one tiny area of a very cluttered house, but it is opening up possibility within me that feels like sabbath - living into God's freedom instead of (self-chosen) slavery.  And it culminated with dropping off several garbage bags of clothes at Joseph's Coat yesterday, and watching volunteers begin sorting it immediately to give out today to the line of people who began assembling early this morning.  I feel thankful that letting go and making space within me may actually also bring joy to others.

This kind of thing is happening around our church building too.  Corners swept clean after years (decades?) hidden behind unexamined shelves.  Rooms being reclaimed with new paint, repurposed furniture, light and life.  Finding strange odds and ends, imagining how well they served our community in the past, and preparing to let them go.  

And that space we are opening up is offering gift to others.  Just today, a group of folks from a few different churches in our presbytery is meeting in an upstairs classroom that last saw occupants two years ago when confirmation met there.  

We are letting go of what was and welcoming what can be, and in the process, it is as though the Spirit's fresh air is blowing through our church building. 

I have so much delight imagining what it would say if our building could share about its day on Sunday.  While we were still in bed (on a Sabbath Sunday), in the predawn, (daylight savings time) twilight, our building was sitting quietly ready for its first guests, our friends from Central Fellowship who came at 9 am and held Sunday school and worship right in the heart of it.  The anticipation must have been building for Iglesia Fuego Pentecostes, in all its boisterous joy, filling the basement from noon to 3 pm.  And as they were wrapping up, the Field Regina Northrup neighborhood group began an educational forum for the community, on the floor above them, about yard care, water runoff and pollution.  They departed, and a short breath later, an evening gathering convened to plan an event supporting a girls' school in Kenya.  
There was virtually no time that the building was not providing hospitality and a welcoming space for someone, and our congregation was not even in it once!   
When the last person locked the door and departed, I can almost see the building smiling, sighing, and settling down for a quiet night after a full day of hosting life.

What will God do in us, though us, even without us, in the space we clear?  

What rich and poignant Lent questions! 
May we continue to bravely clear away the clutter within, between, and around us, to be filled with the presence of God and ready for the gifts God is waiting to bestow.

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