Prayer #24: Next to Godliness

God loveth the clean. {Koran, ch. IX}

Prayer #24: Next to Godliness

How can one person amass so many clothes?

I'm not a clothes horse. I abhor shopping. I wear clothes for 10 years on average. And yet ridding my room of unused clothing required three solid hours tonight.

I admit, my timing is odd for spring cleaning. We're in the midst of an icy March nor'easter. Sleet is pelting the windows. But instead of snuggling on the couch, I went on a cleaning tear, determined to purge my life of all outmoded physical trappings.

The sad thing is, I feel I didn't even make a dent. I still have so many belongings, most of which I don't really use. I tried to apply the one-year rule -- if I hadn't worn, used, or touched it in one year, it went -- but mushy sentimentality usually won out over cold reason.

Hence my still-crowded room, and my urge to land a spot on a personal organization reality show.

It's all too connected to my heart, Lord. Mementos of high school activities, gifts from ex-boyfriends, T-shirts from college spring break trips, perfumes and jewelry and outfits that defined who I was over the years. Throwing them out feels tantamount to turning my back on my past.

Yet that's precisely what I need to do this Lent. Not ignore the past, of course -- that's impossible. I'm cumulative, not serialized. Rather, I need to refresh my identity and spirit, and reflect who I am today by the choices I make.

In the case of my cleaning rampage, such reflection means investing in fewer, but better-tailored outfits. It means matching my wardrobe to my professional job, and not holding on to things I won't wear when somebody else needs the clothing more.

In terms of my heart, it means looking ahead, and embracing my young adult life. It means asserting my independence to make my own choices, while accepting responsibility for their consequences. And it means sharing my gifts with people I encounter, especially when they need them most.

Help me dig through the drawers I haven't dared open in awhile, Lord. Lead me to revisit hidden memories. I'm nervous about what I'll find. It requires messiness and lack of order. My belongings will be laid bare, and I'll be vulnerable.

But then I remember that needless things will go, and necessary items will be restored in cleaner, straighter order than they were before. This gives me great comfort, Lord, knowing that the truly important parts will endure, and that I'll always be able to find them.

So You bring the broom. I'll bring the dustpan. And together, we'll spring-clean my soul.