Cleaning House

The essence of bravery is being without self-deception.
However, it’s not so easy to take a straight look at what we do.
Seeing ourselves clearly is initially uncomfortable and embarrassing…
A warrior begins to take responsibility for the direction of her life.
(Pema Chodron, The Places That Scare You)


Self Examination

Lent is a season of self-reflection, a time to consider our lives and habits, to root out those things that have become addictions and to re-orient our hearts back toward God.

I’ve been wondering lately when the idea of self-reflection became something guilt-ridden and negative. Sometimes when we speak about Lent, our language is soaked with heavy words like sin and death. We talk about sacrifice and self-deprivation, as though the only way to examine one’s life is to find the fault.

If we instead understand self-reflection as a crucial piece of the process of spiritual formation, it will deeply shift the practice of critically examining our lives. Instead of a time for grief, this is a time for rejoicing! Instead of an act of contrition, this is an act of courage.

Cleaning House

I imagine the process of self-reflection as though I am cleaning my home, neglected for many months and cluttered with things.

I pick up each item, I think about where it truly belongs, how it can be used best. As I put each back in its proper place, it becomes not just a thing, but a precious piece of my life. I re-connected with the memories and meaning associated with each possession. I find some things I no longer need, and some things I have forgotten were here.

The process is like a cleansing, a taking stock of what has become my life. It is not that I have changed my desires, my fears, my aspirations, my skills – I have become more aware of their presence, more connected to their impact on my life.

– – –

This Lent, what have you found during your house cleaning? What do you need to add to make your “home” complete? What are you excited to have re-discovered? What have you decided to remove, to keep, to alter?

Note: The photos are from the beautifully secluded labyrinth at Sibley and the impromptu altar at its center. Check it out if you’re in the Bay area!

1 Comment

Filed under Lent 2012: Rend Your Hearts, My Faith Journey, Spirituality, Theology and Faith

One response to “Cleaning House

  1. I think of self-reflection as involving change and growth, rather than being guilt-ridden and negative. I’ve been doing a good bit of it lately, evaluating who I am and how I want to live the rest of my life.
    At the same time, I’ve literally been cleaning house: sorting through things, getting rid of those I no longer need or want. It’s interesting to consider who I am apart from the things I own. It’s part of the process of deciding what’s truly important, both literally and figuratively.

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