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Reflection: Spiritual Trash

Reflection: Spiritual Trash

By Jane Lee Wolfe

Spiritual Trash goes on the curb just like any other trash. Angels pick it up daily. If you miss the pick-up, roll it out anyway. They’ll get it tomorrow. Just don’t keep it inside smelling everything up, and for heaven’s sake, don’t just litter it along the road to make things ugly and complicated for everyone else.

What is spiritual trash? There’s lots of stuff. Fortunately, it can all go in the same trash bag – zero sort! Let’s start with the medical-type stuff: When you’ve been wounded in the heart, you probably have taken some emergency measures that aren’t the best long term: You’ve stopped the spirit flow with dirty rags like rage and intolerance – getting the person who wounded you all mixed up with the wound itself.  These dirty and dismissive rages need to go in the trash. The wounder needs to be forgiven; you need clean space and fresh rags like patience, kindness and relief. Throw rage and intolerance in the bag and haul it to the curb.

Then there is the daily trash of garbage and refuse. Stuff you meant to eat but didn’t so it went bad.  Stuff you half-ate, drinks that soured and went flat, broken this and that. In this bag go guilt about greed, guilt about laziness, being passive, saying “no” to love you should have received but didn’t because other things suited your ego more. Also in this bag goes being pitiful – feeling sorry for yourself without checking with your partner, God, about whether that feeling was appropriate or not. Sour milk, sour grapes, nasty spoiled nourishment.

Of course, next to consider is the never-ending trash; the dust-bunnies under the furniture, the dog hair, the buildup of grit and grime that is part of normal living but that has to be taken care of nonetheless. Housecleaning not done. At least once a week we need to present ourselves for cleansing – getting rid of attitudes and ideas that clutter the spirit, sweeping and mopping the floor to freshen up the disciplines that are the ground of our being in relationship with God.  Polishing the faucets and drains that deal with our joy and its runoff, then sitting back – after a trip to the trash bin on the curb – and gratefully enjoying the fruits of our labor. Everyone loves and relaxes in a clean house!

When you don’t take out your trash, when you accumulate acres of it in your being, when you hoard it as though it were the only thing that gave you security, your spiritual health and spiritual fitness get harder to maintain. It’s hard to breathe in a hoarder’s house, especially when the hoarder is stockpiling resentment, bitterness, arrogance, greed and an infected sense of self, others and God. At some point, this calls for an intervention, if you have enough friends to care and organize. At other times, your spirit will lock up and go dormant, overwhelmed by the filth around it.

It doesn’t have to be that precarious. Trash removal is free! All you have to do is take it to the curb. Sure it might be hard to part with your pet hate, but too bad. Better is to come whether you believe it or not. And by the way, if you are too lazy or indolent to haul the garbage to the curb, the angels will come in and do it for you, no extra fee! Personally, when I’m up to it, I like hauling it to the curb. Good exercise and I feel I am participating fully in my healthy, hopeful, free and inspiring life in God.

Jane Lee Wolfe is a parishioner of St. James-Woodstock, Vt. and Director of Bog Chapel, Inc., an educational not-for-profit organization that focuses on the spiritual health and spiritual fitness of human beings, from youth through old age.

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