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Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. (NRSV)
My family moves this month to our new home. We are excited about this change in our lives. One of the benefits of our move is that we will conduct a proper spring cleaning. My teenage son gently reminded me that spring is synonymous with new beginnings and reflection, and ridding the soul of all impurities.
As I look around, I am shocked at the amount of clutter and stuff that we as a family have accumulated over the years — and how attached we have become to earthly things. We wonder who out there can use an extra T-shirt, blanket, or pair of shoes!
In the last few years and with the onset of globalization, trade in second-hand clothes, or the "dead white man's clothes", as the locals call them, is big business in Africa. It is so common to run into people wearing T-shirts with the most unusual lettering whose meaning or significance they do not care to understand.
Our used or recycled clothes travel thousands of miles across the ocean, and are sold to flea market traders who in turn re-sell them to the locals. These cheap clothes pose a real threat to the local industries, while simultaneously providing a lifeline for many poor families. Flea markets in Africa are places for illegal activities, but also for spiritual and social engagement.
The generosity of some people in the west is diminishing as the economic realities compel us to be frugal. To attract shoppers, car dealerships and department stores are continually crafting new ways of doing business in a hostile environment where there are few takers.
The impact of less economic activity anywhere in the world can be disastrous. Yet, it could bring with it other hidden blessings to the poor — like less dependence on handouts and a time for pure reflection.
The controversial debates about consumerism, obesity, and hunger have made us realize just how much our excessive lifestyles affect the rest of the world and threaten the survival of future generations. We find the link between our insatiable desire for goods and the devastation of climate change and its impact on food security.
It is therefore worthwhile to undertake a soul's spring cleaning: to do an inventory of both our actual tangible stuff and also the toxic stuff that tends to crowd out the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Gracious Lord, we seek Your forgiveness and patience as we struggle with life's many changes and challenges. Cleanse and renew our hearts and souls by enabling us to discard those things hindering our corporate and personal relationships with Jesus Christ, so that Your Holy Spirit might dwell within forever. Amen.
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