This week our house got upheaved as we had our kitchen painted. We carried countless items to another room, marveling with dismay at how much “stuff” we’ve collected in our 22 years here. Our friends Cal and Sean scraped, filled in holes, washed, sanded, caulked and finally painted. The kitchen is sparkling new now, transformed from lifeless beige to “Lazy Sunday” blue with white trim. Thanks to their
hard work, we’ve entered the new year in style.
My work began once the last of the drop sheets and paint paraphernalia had been carted out – the sorting and tidying of the post-renovation task. It became an opportunity to decide what we wanted to keep and what could be given to thrift stores. De-cluttering is a time-consuming job, but also energizing as we made our lives a bit more simple and organized.
As I spent time emptying cupboards, I realized that much of the de-cluttering would be hidden. Few people besides us cooks would really be looking into the far reaches of the cupboards. Yet it was still an important task, as we emptied our lives of things that were no longer useful to us.
I’ve also been doing a fair bit of sifting through the events of 2012, and the parallels began to emerge as I cleaned the kitchen. I realized that God had done some cleaning up of the hidden corners of my soul this past year. Like the items in my thrift store pile, some old attitudes just don’t feel important anymore.
One of these hidden corners is my outlook on my job. For some reason this fall, a shift took place in me. My friends and family can attest to all the years of agonizing I’ve done over my role as a teacher – all the planning and stresses that come with the territory which I’ve taken way too seriously. I have not done this perfectly, but it has felt like this time is over. Like living in a new room, I have been reading or writing more in the evenings, and have come to value and draw strength from this place of inner quiet. To me, this is one way that prayer feels real.
I think the weekend trip to Vancouver that Lyle and I took just before school began had a lot to do with it. Instead of stressing about
school, we took walks, “wasted time” in Vancouver’s beauty, and of course took in a great concert. It was like I was marking the destination of my year as tending to my soul rather than to the many manufactured crises that I think I was previously addicted to.
Perhaps I state it better if I say God gave me an invitation to walk a different way: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) Ironically, within the stillness, I have felt more myself with my students and co-workers.
Another old attitude that God cleaned up in 2012 was that God helped me let go of a situation that I could not resolve on my own. In place of anger, God gave me forgiveness and freedom. It was a true testament to the power of prayer.
2012 was a year of many visible blessings:
- The many times of study and worship with our community which kept us steeped in God’s hope and meaning
- Singing at Lion’s Manor with my buddies Marilyn and Eldon
- Volunteering with Habitat and Monarch Teachers Network
- Increasingly enjoying my job
- Seeing Josh Garrels live in Vancouver with Lyle
- Seeing many great movies, plays and concerts with Lyle
These were some of the visible things that happened this year, but as I cleaned out the kitchen cupboards, I realized it was the hidden healings that I felt the most grateful for. I know it is something I still need to nurture and tend, and I certainly don’t do this perfectly, but I look forward to 2013 with hope and gratitude. God’s got a pretty good track record, so I know that when (not if) I flounder, God will set my feet back on the path.
Now it’s off to the thrift store!