Friday, February 24, 2012

What's in YOUR Refridgerator?

I've renamed my Lenten Discipline to the "Great Lenten Purge" rather than Giveaway.  

It's about getting rid of stuff I don't need.  Some of the stuff I don't need - nobody needs.

Today it was the refrigerator.  Seems like a pretty mundane job we all have to do every once in a while.  

There's a wonderful little book "Father Melancholy's Daughter" about the daughter of a widowed Episcopalian priest who suffers from depression.  

She cleans out the refrigerator on Maundy Thursday.  This was not a mundane job for her:

I decided to honor Maundy Thursday by cleaning the kitchen. This was the day for getting clean and starting over. In ancient times penitents prostrated themselves before the congregation, and after prayers were read over them and hands laid on them, they were readmitted to communion.

If you were high and mighty, it was your especial duty to humble yourself on this day, in keeping with the mandatum of Christ, "that you love one another even as I have loved you." Queen Elizabeth the First, "kept her Maundy" in the great hall at Westminster by washing the feet of twenty poor women.

In monasteries all over Christendom today, abbots and superiors knelt down on bare floors, washing and patting dry the feet of the lowliest kitchen monks....

I attacked the spice shelf, unscrewing each bottle and sniffing; if there wasn't a definite smell of an herb or a spice, it went sailing into the trash bag. Better to have a clean space filled with nothing, than a cluttered space filled with things that were of no use to you anymore. My rubric for getting through this day.

I did a ruthless number on the refrigerator. Out went the rest of Miriam Stacy's tuna and noodle casserole, plastic container and all, .... We had far too many plastic and metal-foil containers that jammed drawers when we tried to open them or clattered down on our heads from top cabinets, when we were looking for something else....

The big black plastic garbage bag was filling fast. One must purify one's refrigerator with the same rigor as one purified one's heart.
 Gail Godwin, Father Melancholy's Daughter

Cleaning the refrigerator can be a profound activity.

We all have those containers pushed to the back corner.  
Inside they contain stuff that at one time was wonderful but now it could kill you if you ate it.  

That's true of so much of our lives.  

It's not just the bad habits we always had.  There are things in our lives, in the way we think, the way we approach life, that were good for us at one time.  

Now they don't work anymore and hanging on to them is killing us.  

That's true of the church.  It's true of me personally.  

Why do I let them get so bad, back there in the corner of the refrigerator?  

Well at first I think I'm going to eat it one of these days.  

Then it dawns on me that I'm not not, and it's going bad.  

And I don't want to deal with it.  Push it further behind the other stuff.  Out of sight, out of mind.  

But it doesn't go away.  

It gets worse and stinks up the refrigerator.  Eventually it's best not even to open it up and look at it.  Throw the whole thing away. 

Not every wound needs to be opened up and looked at and relived and analyzed.  

There's a lot in our lives we can just throw out, unopened.  Let it go.  Forget about it. 

I'm celebrating my clean refrigerator by making some bacon wrapped, cream cheese stuffed jalapenos.  I can smell them baking now.  Tomorrow we will go through some books.


  1. Books...

    Years ago I realized that my shelves were full of good books that I had read long before and never opened again. I now have a read-and-release policy. About twice a year I gather up books I've read and offer them to colleagues who might benefit from them.

  2. oh what a great image! i may indeed borrow for MT worship... lends itself well on several levels.