Ordinarily, a thorough housecleaning is associated with spring, but what better time for such a cleaning of our interior “houses” than now? Today there is continual talk of living more simply, of “centering down” during prayer time and so on. St. Matthew once described a model we might want to emulate in this kind of heavenly housecleaning: a net of fish from which the good ones are hauled into boats and the bad ones thrown out (cf. Mt. 13:47-48). Or, as one homilist paraphrased it, “Life is like a giant flea market. We need to sift through all the trash in our lives in order to find the treasures hidden in it.” In other words, every moment in our lives needs to be centered, not just our specified prayer times.
After many years of experience in this matter I have come to believe there are two kinds of people—often mutually exclusive—those who talk about simple living and those who live simply. There are those who set up ideal external environments designed to foster lives of great integrity, who remain very complicated, agitated people. There are others who live in a complex world, busy with numerous problems who are, nevertheless, very serene and uncomplicated; they approach God single-heartedly. It seems that though a “no frills” environment can be related to achieving a life of simplicity, it does not always do so. Unless we are simple, “at one” within, nothing external can induce this kind of wholeness.
All of us need to sift through the trash of our lives periodically. Among the priorities we have in life, which are most important to us? What are our goals? Do we have too many? If not, then what trash do we carry around in life that has nothing to do with or is only remotely related to these goals? What treasures do we have in our lives that can reinforce them? There is no better time to find these treasures than now.
—Mary E. Penrose, OSB
Sister Mary E. Penrose is a Sister of St. Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. She edits readings for the liturgical Hours and writes reflections for the Community. And she is a tutor for the African Sisters attending The College of St. Scholastica. She was editor of a journal, Spirit & Life, for 18 years.
Read all Sister Mary E.’s reflections.