Ever notice how laundry and dish detergents often have a “Fresh Spring Scent” advertised? The season of Spring is known for freshness which is something all of us desire. No one wants to be stale. Or stinky. . . who invented that word anyway? I use it reluctantly. Excuse my digression.
I believe the April showers in this part of the world really do bring May flowers and lots of that lovely freshness we crave after a long winter. The warmth of Spring beckons us to throw open windows and air out our houses. It seems natural after being cooped up for those cold months to want to alleviate the mustiness and clean til the cows come home. But somehow life has gotten busy, hasn’t it? Too busy to clean and care for what we already have. The idea of Spring Cleaning seems foreign to our modern society. Where did this ancient idea originate?
Spring cleaning has ties to both cultural and religious observances across the globe.
Culturally these thorough cleanings revolve around New Years celebrations. The Chinese sweep their homes with vigor to get rid of bad luck. Japan calls it the BIG CLEANING done just before New Years and Scotland does something similar called New Years Cleaning on December 31st. Iranians practice “Khooneh Tekouni” which literally means “Shaking the House” and clean from floor to ceiling just before the Persian New Year in late March.
The Jews clean in preparation for Passover, scouring their homes to remove any and all crumbs of yeast. The Catholics clean the church altar area on Maundy Thursday in preparation for Easter. Orthodox believers in Greece and other nations observe what they call Clean Week to cleanse their homes for the first week of Great Lent usually falling around April 1.
And then there’s the pineal gland theory of ancient man desiring to clean in the Spring because he feels more energized due to more sunlight hours during that time of year.
Whatever the motivation, there seems to be an age old practice to thoroughly clean our living spaces once a year. I find it to be a dying practice in my corner of the world. Very rarely do I hear anyone mention Spring Cleaning anymore. As a kid everyone knew what it was. It happened every year at our house and I always dreaded it. Moving all the furniture around. Scrubbing every nook and cranny that normally never saw the light of day. Lots of hard work went into Spring Cleaning. But afterwards, the house looked and smelled fresh and new. Rather delightful.
I recently heard of a high school assignment for Spring Break that included Spring Cleaning. Students would receive extra credit if they took before and after photos of cleaning their bedrooms. They were instructed to section off the clutter into Keep, Throw-away and Give-away piles also to be documented on film. Personally I thought it was a great idea to teach the next generation how to clean and organize. We need to teach the young to take care of their belongings. To appreciate what they have and not take them for granted. To give generously out of their abundance to those in need.
Spring time should be refreshing for our souls as well as our homes. As Resurrection Sunday quickly approaches perhaps we should ask ourselves if we appreciate the gift of salvation we’ve been given? Have too many needless things have piled up in our lives that need some flinging? Maybe we need to Spring Clean our schedules, our priorities, even some of our relationships to make room for more reflective time to ponder the wonder of the Resurrection? Cleaning the house is good but cleaning out distractions from our heart is better….
“Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught.” Luke 10:39 New living translation
Let’s ask the Lord what priorities He wants in each of our lives and throw out all the other junk. It will refresh our spirit like a Spring Fling for the soul making us free to FLURISH.
Shine on. . .