It appears that many people have used the periods of lockdown to de-clutter their homes. We all tend to hold on to things for which we have no further use. Sometimes these are things which have some emotional significance for us, so it can be important to hold on to them even if they are no longer used. Other things we will not miss – and we might even welcome the space we gain. Charity shops have been receiving more than they can process, especially as they have been closed for many weeks, so it can be difficult to decide what to do with the things we no longer want.
But what about other aspects of our lives? Are there things to which we cling when they are no longer helpful, or which might even be harmful? It may be an ‘If only’ wish – regret for an unfulfilled hope which is holding us back when we need to be freed from it; or a sense of guilt towards someone which could only be resolved by being open with that person, saying to them ‘I’m sorry’. Or might it be something which we need to confess to God and for which we need to ask forgiveness? Some recurrent failure which falls short of what we know to be God’s will for us? I remember a sermon in which we were urged to bring to the altar rail something from which we seek to be freed and, metaphorically, to lay it on the altar as we receive Communion.
Jesus said: ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ (Matthew 6:19-21). This is usually taken to refer to physical or monetary possessions, but could the same not be true of some of the treasures harboured in our hearts? Some long-standing resentment or anger perhaps? Some harmful desire? Something which prevents us being fully open to ourselves or towards God? Here is a prayer of George Appleton:
O Spirit of God,
who dost speak to spirits created in thine own likeness,
Penetrate into the depth of our spirits
into the storehouse of memories remembered and forgotten,
into the depths of our being, the very springs of our personality,
And cleanse and forgive, making us whole and holy,
that we may be thine
and live in the new being of Christ our Lord.