Let the Dusting Commence!

Spring cleaning officially begins on March 19. Well, at 11:06 PM on March 19 to be more precise –– though only the most committed householders are likely to start up the Hoover when daylight has waned so thoroughly and night has arrived. But come sunrise at 7:54 AM on the 20th, I imagine some of you will be doing your best to imitate the thoroughness of Hazel (from the 1961 TV show of the same name), without the craziness of the cleaning scene (with help from Thing 1 and Thing 2) from The Cat in the Hat movie. But after a winter with closed windows, increasingly warmer temperatures will finally allow us to chase away the cobwebs of stagnation and vacuum up the dust bunnies of cabin fever which have accumulated outside of us and maybe even within us, over these past few months.

Spring is when Joel and I vacuum under the couch cushions (and sometimes find coins and chips), and vacuum the venetian blinds (and there are lots of those), and dust the blades on the ceiling fans (three of them). It’s when we clean out the lint that’s accumulated in the flexible 4″ vent hose that connects the back of the clothes dryer to the too-small-to-be-a-pet-door outside slatted cover on the north side of the rectory. It’s when we use those cleaning additives to wash away built up mineral residues in the dishwasher and the washing machine. And truth be told, it’s when we clean out expired foods from the pantry (though there are rarely any). And I Googled it, and there are at least twenty-one different ways to spring clean.

But there are other ways to clean our outer and inner worlds. There are internal cleansing methods as well (like colonics); though I’ve read that a weekly meal of hot-air-popped popcorn (with some melted butter and nutritional yeast) is just as effective. And proper diet and exercise may help clean out any fatty buildups in our cardiovascular systems. But enough about that.

In the Epistle from 1Peter that we heard on February 18, we were reminded that baptism –– which was prefigured in the waters of the flood –– saves us “not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience.”

Now spring is also when hibernating animals begin to wake up, become aware of their surroundings, and start another season of activity. And according to the Michigan State University Extension office, little brown bats, woodland and meadow jumping mice, woodchucks, and thirteen-lined ground squirrels are the only true hibernating mammals in Michigan. And true hibernators cannot be awakened and are even unresponsive to external stimuli.

And while spring begins on March 19, it will still be Lent (which means “spring”). And it will still be a good time to wake up, as scripture exhorts us; to emerge from winter’s doldrums; and to clean up any attitudes, points of view, and convictions which restrict the full light of the Gospel from taking hold in our lives. And so, we may ask what worldviews of ours need to be dusted as well? What rigid attitudes need to be loosened up with the WD-40 of love? There will still be time to look at our outer environment, our inner workings, and more deeply into our spiritual selves; and acknowledge two truths: we are beloved children of God, and we will miss God’s mark not only for ourselves, but for creation. That’s why we pray “thy will be done.” And it’s why we clean.

About the author: The Rev. Mike Wernick

The Rev. Mike Wernick is a second-career Episcopal priest who grew up in a Reform Jewish family. He relishes his role as the Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Officer for two dioceses and affirms all faith traditions (he has this idea that diversity was never intended to be divisive). He serves on several diocesan and synod committees, including the ELCA N/W Lower Michigan Synod’s Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity; and in July 2020, he finished a two-year practicum to become a Spiritual Director.