Why declutter during lent?
I announced a few days ago that I would be doing a decluttering challenge during Lent (Feb 18-April 5) this year. But what does cleaning have to do with Lent?
To begin with, let's define Lent.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (February 18th) and ends on Easter (April 5). Sundays are excluded from Lent, leaving us with 40 days. These 40 days are a mirror of the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry. This story can be found in Matthew 4:1-11.
Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before Lent begins. Traditionally, this is a day of feasting in preparation for the fasting of Lent. Long ago, people would actually use up all of the sugar and meat in their homes on Mardi Gras so they would be prepared to live more simply during Lent.
Growing up in the Mennonite church, I never actually went to an Ash Wednesday service, though we did talk about Lent (albeit in a very casual manner). I was probably in college when I first saw people walking around with ash crosses on their foreheads. I have still never been to an Ash Wednesday service, but I do appreciate the symbolism that takes place. The ash is representative of our sin and mortality, while the cross is a reminder of the gift of salvation and forgiveness that Christ gave us on the cross.
During Lent, it is common to fast, serve, and pray.
While traditionally, I'm sure that fasting meant literally fasting from food, many people now fast from other things. Some of the common ones that I have seen are: facebook, TV, smart phones, alcohol, chocolate, and desserts. The actual thing that you fast from is not as important as the refocusing on God that should happen while you're fasting.
This is where decluttering comes into the picture. In a world of consumerism, it is easy to become burdened with stuff. And if you enjoy being organized like me, worry about how to organize all of that stuff can literally consume your mind. I regularly fall asleep mentally organizing rooms in our house. Fasting from stuff - giving up stuff - is one way that I can simplify my life and have more time and energy to focus on God.