Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
Readings: Daniel 3:25, 34-43and Matthew 18:21-35
Today’s readings offer examples of what it means to give our lives fully to God. Daniel recounts the story of Azariah, who with two others was thrown into a fire because they refused to worship an idol, choosing instead to follow the one true God. Noting that they are sinners with contrite hearts who have followed God “unreservedly” with their “whole heart,” Azariah prays for their deliverance, and God grants his request. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells a parable about forgiveness, making sure we understand there is no limit to the number of times we are expected to forgive.
Reflecting on these readings, I was reminded of a book I read recently, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo. What, you may ask, does a bestseller about home organization have to do with Lenten scripture?
Kondo’s approach to organization is based on the principle that our homes should contain only things that spark joy when we encounter them; everything else must go. Kondo recognizes that it’s not easy to declutter, and there are many reasons we hold on to things that don’t spark joy—for example, we may be loathe to get rid of a gift, even though we don’t use it or like it, because it was given to us by a cherished friend. In these situations, Kondo advises that we express our gratitude to the object for the important service it provided: helping us to identify what is meaningful to us (the friendship), and what is not (the object taking up space on the shelf). Then it’s time to say goodbye. The book suggests that by organizing our physical space in this way, we will create more emotional space – more room to breathe – ultimately leading to a more joyful existence.
Our lives often become cluttered, well beyond the physical objects that pile up in our homes. Lent is a time to tidy up. We must let go of the matters that distract us from giving our lives fully to God. We can acknowledge challenges and be grateful for the experiences that help us recognize what needs to go. Then make the space to follow God wholeheartedly, and experience the life-changing magic that ensues.
Sara Gross Methner