isn't it amazing what sunshine can do? yesterday i awoke to grey skies and muddled my way through laziness. today: blue skies, puffy clouds, sunlight streaming in through the windows and sha-bam! i was a cleaning tornado. i dusted my baseboards. i vacuumed my bathroom fans (which, by the way, were disgusting). i bought a groupon for my furnace and vents to be cleaned. i even fertilized my succulents! a good spring clean, and man! does it ever feel good.
we just spent four nights at a cabin on Galiano Island. and when i say "cabin", i mean ginormous house on the edge of a bluff looking over the ocean. we went with scott's brother and family, and scott's parents also came up for a night, with two of their friends. it was a lively, full house. incredible amounts of noise. lots of food, games, rainbow loom bracelets adorning every wrist (my son had them lined all the way up to his elbow), sea shells and naps (sporadic, due to the incredible amounts of noise). on monday afternoon, my favourite day, i experienced the sheer bliss of spending hours lying in my bed, with the window opened and a warm breeze blowing and the sound of the ocean humming, drifting between sleep and reading the latest flavia de luce novel. i mean, YES! that's what i'm talking about when i imagine the word "holiday". it was a holy day. not because i was doing any 'spiritual' work, but because something magically holy happened inside of me.
here's what took place right before i had this amazing afternoon: i cried. i cried while i was out on a walk with my husband, having just come from gathering shells at the sea shore. i cried because i had just made it through 6 very intense weeks - starting my new administrative job, as well as teaching two art classes - and the vision that helped me make it through, the vision of 4 nights at a cabin relaxing with my family, was not coming true. i was not relaxing. i was cooking and parenting and cleaning and sharing.
we came back from the walk and had lunch and i felt overwhelmingly tired. emotional. spent. i told my brother and sister-in-law that i was going to have a nap, and apologized for not helping with the lunch dishes, assuring them i'd take care of dinner. and my brother-in-law said "nobody's keeping track. there's no checks and balances here. go take a nap".
i walked upstairs with his words ringing in my ears: "there's no checks and balances here". i slept, i woke, i slept, i read, and all the while these words were digging into me. sanctifying. cleaning.
nobody's keeping track.
there's no checks and balances here.
my dear brother extended grace to me. a grace i was not extending. i was keeping track. i was checking and balancing my own sacrifices with those of the people around me. yuck.
how many times am i checking the score in my marriage? in my friendships? in my roles as daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, pastor's-wife? why do i keep track of how many nights i've put the kids to bed by myself this week? why do i carry those actions like trumps in my hand? i know - because i am not living in grace. i'm living in a system of debt and payment.
how immensely freeing it was to rest that afternoon, knowing that no one cared, that i would not have to make up for it!! and let me tell you, how freely and joyously i wanted to make dinner that night! i wanted to cook and clean and parent and share - out of a place of gift instead of duty.
and now i have an even greater appreciation for my in-law-siblings, and see how they live with this gracious extension of hospitality. it's beautiful. jon and alyssa, you're beautiful people. i am honoured to be related and in relationship with you.
what a timely gift this grace received has been, as i travel through Lent considering the grace i require in my every breath. an inner spring cleaning - and in such a gentle way. i see my motivations are in desperate need of a good vacuum - if only i could get my dyson down in there. i long to operate my life by inhaling and exhaling gracious deeds, gracious thoughts, gracious attitudes. to give for the simple reason that i can. to love and be loved freely, without tally or debt.
and i pray the same for you. as the sun creeps back into our lives, may we find the motivation and energy we need to scrub away the accumulating mess. a truly thorough spring clean.