Sunday, March 24, 2013

Clean shouldn't be a dirty word

Whether it's the toy room or your soul, why is cleaning such a chore?

The phrase, "It's time to clean up," isn't well received in our house. The kids' reaction can be anything from absolute disgust to whining and complaining to pouting and stomping to total denial anything needs to be cleaned, depending on the time, day and phase of the moon.

Almost all our indoor toys are in the basement. We're blessed to have a great playroom for the kids, and we have spent no small effort organizing things to the point that everything has a home. Well, everything until the next load comes at Christmas or on birthdays. Even then, we try to purge and teach the kids the value of moderation and helping those less fortunate. That too is met with varying degrees of success—must be moon phases again. I should really start charting that to see if it's a valid theory.

The fact the playroom is the one-stop shop for toys is a bit of a two-edged sword. Any mess made is generally localized to the basement, theoretically making clean up easier. But, the localized mess is usually very concentrated. My feet pay the price for failing to properly navigating the minefield of Lego, Hot Wheels cars, Lego, Littlest Pet Shop (and LPS Teensies), trains, Lego, animals, play food, Lego and a cornucopia of other small sharp toys waiting to inflict pain, injury and insult.

When we declare it's time to clean up, we're met with one, or a combination of, the aforementioned reactions. Then we act as somewhat of a counselor, helping the kids move through all the stages to acceptance that things will be cleaned.

The first round of cleaning isn't really cleaning. It's more like shoving into piles in corners so if Mom or Dad come down they don't step on things anymore, and if they don't turn on the light or open their eyes, we can convince them it's clean.

Then our role usually shifts for counselor to negotiator. Clean and there's a good chance of something positive happening. Don't clean and your faced with the c-word: consequence.

Sometimes it's quick and relatively pain-free. Most of the time there is much resistance that never leads to anything good, but it eventually gets cleaned.

If, as parents, we can observe the benefits of cleaning—things are easier to find, there is more room to play, no one steps on things and gets hurt, things simply look better—we should be able to see the same benefits of cleaning our souls.

Sin, no matter how small, can build-up into a big mess over time if it's not dealt with. Lego pieces are small, but can inflict a fair bit of damage to feet when stepped on. Sin damages relationships, both with God and with other people.

Shoving sin in a corner so it's out of sight isn't cleaning. It may delay the damage or deflect the damage to a different person, but it doesn't eliminate the mess. And we're fooling ourselves if we think we can hide it from God. So why do we let pride get in the way and think, "If God doesn't turn on the light or open his eyes, He'll think I'm clean and my relationship with Him is A-OK," just because the mess got relocated? We know better when dealing with our children, and we should know better when dealing with our immortal souls.

As we enter Holy Week, let's deal with our mess. If you haven't already had a chance to do so this lent, go to the sacrament of reconciliation—clean up your mess, no matter how small you think it may be. Repair your relationship with God. Let His healing, love and mercy overwhelm you. Accept the gift of the crucifixion and resurrection this Easter with a clean heart and soul.

Postscript: I was just in the basement checking on the latest round of cleaning and overheard my oldest say, "See how quickly this can go when we work together?" Almost brings a tear to my eye or makes me wonder if this is a dream. If it is, don't wake me for a while.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the Catholic Blog Directory. I'd like to invite you to particpate in Sunday Snippets-A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts iwth each other. This week's host post is at