Spring Cleaning

My goodness! Where has the time gone? This week marks the end of March and the beginning of another spring season! We started a little spring clean-up in our yard this past weekend… and then, in true Canadian fashion, it snowed this morning! My poor little urban garden’s seedlings are feeling the pinch of the dip in temperature, too, as they sit on my windowsill. Still, Time has a way of ticking on, and spring weather will soon arrive. I’m looking forward to it. How about you, my friend? Do you do the traditional “spring clean”?

Do you participate in the big spring clean?

It’s what I’ve been musing about this week… spring cleaning. Not that it is a task I enjoy immensely, but I do love the result of a little elbow grease after a tired winter season. I need more time to really get in all the cracks and crevises of this ol’ house, but, well, every little bit counts, right? We’ve chatted about it before. I’ll leave some previous posts down below if you want to follow up. You can even check out the pictures from our decluttered furnace room… or the fish tank clean-up! Ever wondered where the idea of “spring cleaning” originated?

So, I did some digging. Turns out there are a few “thoughts” about where the idea of a spring clean up came from. In 19th century America, March was considered the best time to dust because the windows to the home could be opened without the fear of flying insects invading your space! The coal furnaces would have stopped running and all the soot leftover could be swept out and the house aired. Nowadays, I suppose, we could open the windows to let all the ammonia smells out from our chemical cleaners! (Anyone else love a good bleach?)

Some sources say the deep clean is associated with a new year. In Japan and Scotland, the “spring clean” is in December. Persian new year, “Nowruz”, is the first day of spring and involves a truly deep clean of the whole house. Many traditions evolved around Lent’s “purging” in time for Easter. This is also true of the Biblical Jewish tradition of house “cleansing” during the time of Passover and the remembrance of the Jewish exodus in haste from Egypt. Jews even clean out the pantry. I wonder if they get to eat all the snacks? I like that kind of clean up!

Whatever way you think about your physical clean-up, whether it be in preparation for a new year, or new season, or just an excuse to get all spick and span, it is important to remember that a clean “outside” cannot compare to a clean inside. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that a carefully cleaned outside that hides a heart of deceit and greed is futile (Matthew 23). And how grateful am I that God promises my sins to be completely cleansed? As clean as the new-fallen snow ! (Isaiah 1:18). Even if it is spring snow in the middle of our yard clean up!

So, if scrubbing the baseboards or dusting, or open window airing out is on your agenda this week, I hope it reminds you that your inside should be just as glowing! May your efforts be blessed!

Here are a few more muses about all things tidy!

A Simple Snowflake

In the heart of another Canadian winter, we trudge through the streets after another snow flurry on our way home after a day of work. My beloved is a good winter driver. I am not a good winter passenger. I white-knuckle it as we brake behind the slow-moving vehicle ahead of us (I am acutely aware of his brake lights seemingly minutes before my driver is and I cannot fathom why he has not braked yet). Our city is still digging out from a huge deluge of snow that was dropped on us a week or so ago. And we are about to add to the snowbanks yet again. We finally talk about something other than Covid. Consequently, my mind wanders to the great mystery of the simple snowflake. The topic of this week’s muse.

Snow is obviously made from snowflakes. Tiny ice crystals that fall from the sky… and pile up so high that we must move mountains in order to carry on with our daily tasks. I cannot even fathom the number of individual snowflakes that one snowbank contains, let alone a city full of snowbanks, or the country …or the world’s snow! Mindboggling. Most people are aware of the fact that snowflakes have distinct shapes. We’ve all seen them on our clothing or windshield. Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to see them under a microscope. Here’s a pretty one:

Photo via Caltech

Did you know this is also a snowflake?

They say that individual snowflakes can be classified into 80 some snow types? That is amazing! Our Creator is wonderful, isn’t He?! We simply can’t duplicate it. Here is a picture of artificial snow. Basically water droplets froze in the cool air and sprayed on the ski hills for our enjoyment… without the creativity:

You wanna hear another interesting tidbit of snowy inspiration? The ice crystals form when a water droplet freezes on a dust or pollen bit in the sky. Crystallization causes the ice to form into the symmetrical patterns we then classify based on those patterns. Each one is unique because of the twists and turns the dust particle makes on its way down from the atmosphere. Yup, we shovel dirt in the winter… it’s just covered in water. Oh, but how beautiful does that dawn of the new-fallen snow look from our windowsill? All white and pristine, before it gets tarnished by salt and grime and snow tires. The hubby made this remark as we turned the corner onto our street. Sure, I say, just happy to be home alive again from the treacherous trip. It’s beautiful… dirt and water piled high…

So, let’s make a little object lesson from our snow this week. In Psalm 51:7, David prays – “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Ever feel a little dirty on the inside? David could be our prime example of this object lesson. Yet, we are no less dirty. Our “specks of dust” twist and transform our ways and can pile up like the heaps of snow we shovel off the driveway. It has nowhere else to go. But, like that snowflake, God takes all that dirt… and covers it up to make something beautiful!

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18 Our pure and just God cannot be tarnished by our unholiness, but when covered through Jesus’ sacrifice we shall be as white as snow! Our dust has been covered and only the beauty remains. What a promise!

Oh, friends, these days of Covid and snow and winter and isolation have many of us tired and fed up. We are heavy-ladened with the burdens of just trudging through… literally! Alas, our hope is full and it covers the dirt completely! We need cleansing and some good old fashion scrubbing to revive us so that we will be as white as the snow. I’m looking forward to finding that little bit of magic in all this. The silver lining … or should I say the white lightning in the simplicity of some dirt and a water droplet.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Deep Clean

I’m sitting here in my living room on cleaning day (yes, I have a day designated to clean — don’t judge, it’s just how I roll) and wondering how the blazes did it get like this in less than a week? The curtains are askue, there are fingerprints on the door, and the screen on the window looks like it could fill a truckload up in dust. The fish tank is in desperate need of a deep clean and is becoming a haven for some unknown kind of pleasantly coloured green algae that I am sure is keeping the poor guppies alive because I haven’t feed them in days. The Risk game is still on the kitchen table from the two day marathon the kids had with their friends. There is a bowl and spoon sitting here beside me as I type. I think it is from someone’s breakfast cereal this morning, and it wasn’t me, so add “failure to instruct children in good clean up habits” to my list of mom woes.

I’m contemplating how quickly my couches would burn if I lit a match. They are second hand, once removed, and have been decimated by cat scratches and greasy, buttered bagels served at leisurely couch-as-dining-table breakfasts. No worries though, they are creature free — if you don’t count the very large dust bunnies that lurk in between the cushions. But they are comfy, and I won’t mind at all if you put your shoes up on ’em and relax.

It didn’t use to be this way. I used to be much more particular. I love neat and organized cupboards and alphabetized collections. I recently binged watched YouTube videos about hoarding vs. obsessive compulsive cleaners in the UK. And although I have never spent 20 hours a week bleaching my toilet bowl, nor have 80 pairs of random shoes piled to the ceiling in my spare bedroom, I somehow managed to find a healthy balance of cleanliness and happiness. Today, on this cleaning day, a week before school starts, and on the brink of unexpected guests, I am just not feelin’ it. I’ll probably freak out and yell (or maybe silently fester) about it because my brain wants one thing and I’m faltering at obtaining the other. Ah, crap. So be it.

If there is one thing I learned from my blatant waste of time on YouTube, it was that both the hoarders and the OCD’ers struggled with something on the inside that resulted in their outside cleaning habits. Like Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees in the New Testament: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Matthew 23:25. How many times do I struggle with my outward vs. my inward? A lot. Introverts struggle even more, I think. Curvy girls? Double that.

I’m patiently waiting for God to show me how to clean up. Like scrubbing pots, it seems to be a long and tedious process. My heart has nooks and crannies that haven’t been vacuumed for years, and the cobwebs hang heavy. It’s a process, and each box of clutter has to be sorted, dusted and re-evaluated. I’m tempted to throw in the towel with the rest of the dirty laundry, and sell the whole blessed house in exchange for the country retreat… chicken coops clean themselves, right? But perhaps that would just be inheriting someone else’s mess. In fact, I know it would be inheriting someone else’s mess.

I suppose I will have to plod along and somewhere find the balance between the dust bunnies and the dust bins. I’ve put in the first load of laundry. That’s a start, right?