These bees are living on the roof of our cathedral, busy preparing for a robust summer of flight; cleaning, collecting and production. While you and I are making early and hopeful lists, planning for summer vacations, our cathedral bees are busy cleaning their hive. They are collecting the corpses of the bees who gave they lives to keep the queen warm. They are removing debris and old, broken flakes of wax all of which get flown out the front of the hive and dropped, unceremoniously onto our roof for the wind to blow away, off onto the paving stones of the dead we remember on All Souls Walk and then on, into the grasses to become the bits and pieces of new life among the blazed of grass sloping to the street.
Spring is also a time to clean and sort our homes in the same ways the bees are cleaning and sorting their hives.
I recently listened to a new audio book while walking on a beach on a cold, windy and rainy day during a church conference. The book is called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and the author is Mari Kondo. It was, I admit, another in a long line of self-help books and I also admit that the sections on sorting Kimono did not actually apply, but this tiny book has changed my life. Like the bees on our roof, I have used her wisdom to purge my home, making my recent move light and short.
And the work of decluttering is not just the work of bee hives or homes. It can be done with emails, files, relationships, calendars, volunteerism – any number of areas of life in which needless acquisitions are being held simply because we lack the self-awareness of asking such a simple question: “Does this spark joy in me when I hold it in my hands?”
What I used to do with book-sorting or file-purging or clothes-thinning or relationship-management was ask “Am I done with this?” or ” “Has this served its purpose?” or ” Can I let go of this?” or “Have I benefitted from this in my life in the past 6 months?”
But the question “Does this spark joy in me?” seems to be connected to Easter. Jesus comes to make our joy complete. And for me, my joy can too easily become layered with a crust of attachments which only serve to weigh down and obscure the real joys in my life. Once I thinned out my pottery collection, for example, I could finally SEE the pieces I love – no longer obscured by the many other fine pots which simply have had their time and need to go.
What if one of the disciplines of the Easter season (like the penchant we have for disciplines in the Lenten season) was to hold everything of which we are stewards and ask, while holding each thing, “Does this give me joy?” And if not, thank it for its service and let it go to Goodwill?
What if the energy and determination we apply to Lenten abstinence could be similarly applied to Easter load-lightening – not so that we deny ourselves and take up our cross, but so that we sort through our loves in order to see what resonates with resurrection joy? The moving van industry will suffer as might the storage industry, but the planet might heave a sigh of relief.
For Mari Kondo’s book go to: