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Ash and Oil: March 20

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

As temperatures slowly inch upwards and the sun lingers longer in the evening, that spring-time drumbeat starts pounding ever louder in my head. After being cooped up for a cold, dark winter I want to take every opportunity to go outside, even if I might be jumping the gun a bit, and I suddenly get the feeling like I need to get my house in order.

That frenzy of spring cleaning - sorting through the junk that always seems to accumulate despite my best efforts, throwing open the windows to let in new air, rifling through cabinets and closets, dusting neglected corners - something about the coming newness of the seasons makes me want me, and everything around me, to be new too.

Maybe it's good timing that Lent falls during this transition of seasons. We're not out of the dark yet. Winter holds on. We enter into the final stretch with our heads bowed, sorrowful and yet hopeful for the newness that will come. In the dark corners of our hearts and minds we examine what needs to be repaired and what needs to be discarded. We rifle through the junk, the flotsam of our human brokenness that clutters up our spiritual - and temporal - lives. We ask Christ to make us clean again.

Easter, like the springtime, will come; but would that beauty and newness of the risen Christ and our redemption and renewal be quite so bright had we not stopped to honestly examine our desperate need for one to come and cleanse us?

Pray: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

Take the next step: Lent is a time to flush out the clutter that inhibits our walk with God. As you take stock of those things in your life that crowd your vision of God, take the first step in your closet. Turn every hanger in your closet in the same direction. After wearing an article of clothing, put it back in the closet and turn the hanger in the opposite direction. After one month, donate every article of clothing on a hanger still pointing in the original direction to a thrift store.

[Image: Flickr user Heather]

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