March 25, 2013

Virtuous Weeds...

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered."- Ralph Waldo Emerson

March 22, 2013

Great Lent: A Season of Inventory

I am so excited to share my first contribution to "The Sounding Orthodox Blog" of the Orthodox Christian Network!  It is both an honor and a privilege to be included among those who contribute to this ongoing body of work.

Great Lent: A Season of Inventory

This week marked the beginning of Great Lent for Orthodox Christians. Monday was “Clean Monday” and this whole first week of Lent is also deemed “Clean Week”.  Traditions for Clean Week may vary between Orthodox cultures with perhaps only one exception: Spring Cleaning.
(Can you hear my heavy sigh?)
Here in the Deep South, we’ve already had many a preview of spring weather days, and Clean Monday was no exception. Energized and motivated with the start of Great Lent as well as the warm temperatures that allowed us to open up the doors of the house, I stepped out onto our back porch fully prepared to ambitiously begin my spring cleaning.

However, when my eyes brought into focus what was in front me – from one end of the porch to the other – I was stunned at what I found.

As the sole female in a male-dominant household, wonders never cease at the myriad of paraphernalia from the man’s world that finds it way into our rural home. This back porch moment was a reality of that very fact; here is an inventory of the task before me:

• About a 3rd of a chord of wood
• An empty cat food bag
• An electric boat motor
• Bucket of kindling (lighter wood)
• 2 empty buckets
• Ashes from the fireplace (the entire winter's worth...)
• A Frisbee
• An empty cricket basket
• 4 fishing rod holders
• 1 fluffy tail of a coyote (…doesn’t every home need one?)
• A dirty towel (whose origin I know not – it’s not our towel…Oh. My!)
• 1 Camo seat cushion
• 2 tackle boxes
• 1 small drop-leaf table (evicted from the basement patio when the boys began their basement project)
• 1 BB gun (on the drop-leaf table)
• 1 bottle of Buck Lure (also known as doe urine…again, because every family needs a bottle)
• 1 beaver stick from the creek
• 1 umbrella
• A 5 gal. bucket of pecans
• A 5 gal. bucket of pecan shells
• A single deer antler (not sure where the matching antler made its way to…)
• 2 boat cushions
• 2 boat anchors (only one with rope attached)
• 4 boat oars of varying sizes
• 1 cooler
• 1 empty cat litter jug now recycled for carrying water (hopefully not drinking water!)
• 3 folding chairs
• A single flower vase (from last summer - no flowers)
• 1 [very dry & relatively unused] mop
• 2 fishing rods with reels
• 1 broken fishing rod (a trophy no doubt)
• 1 broom (that couldn’t sweep if it had to)
• 3 pairs of tennis shoes (one shoe is housing a single open-faced fishing reel; why not?)
• 1 pair of PINK flip flops (the ONLY evidence that I exist here)
• A single rubber crawdad lure
• An empty red wiggler tub
• A pile of towels (that do belong to us)
• A casting net
• A single bobber
• An empty tackle case
• Shooting targets & stand
• 3 more fishing rods
• 1 cane pole
• 2 dust pans (covered in dust)
• 1 fire fighter helmet
• A wrought iron basket
• A large hornets nest (no hornets)
• A 5 gal. bucket of compost
• 3 different brands of bug spray (insect repellant)
• 1 bottle of “Scent Away” (Oh lOOk - it's Dirt scent - of course it is!)
• Lady bugs and wasps galore!

Then there are the things that really belong on the back porch (table and chairs, wicker couch, wind chimes…).  Wow - so few.

And while this list could easily read like a complicated index for a magic potion recipe from a fantasy movie, I could only wonder out loud to myself, “How have I been coming and going and passing by [completely oblivious to] what has obviously been accumulating for weeks and months since last summer and fall?”

Then it hit me. Just as this mish-mash collection of assorted things made their way onto our back porch that have gone unnoticed for so long (and nearly taking root!), what about my own personal and spiritual inventory that needs to be brought into focus? What has been collecting in my heart, in my thoughts, in my words and actions that have long gone unaddressed? The Orthodox Church, the Holy Fathers and the Saints have long established for us the tools, advice and processes with which to inventory our lives and not accumulate the stuff that blurs our view, weighs us down and slows our Christian journey. May we all keep our focus on Christ as we navigate our personal inventories and reflections this Lenten season.