Although some people designate the month of April for spring cleaning, at my house we’re making messes.
When Nate and I moved into this cottage full time in June of 2009, the house was ready for a face lift. Its colors were the same ones we registered at the Marshall Fields bridal registry in 1969: psychedelic oranges, yellows, and greens. After we got married, we stuck with that color scheme for about two years, but the Michigan house was stuck there still.
Our 2009 summer as new Michigan residents was a mixed blessing. We were glad to be here, but Nate’s back was bothering him intensely. Neither of us knew that very soon we would learn of his cancer, and our plans would be permanently altered.
But before all that, I remember an evening when the two of us sat amidst the boxes and talked of fixing up the house. I was all about paint and throw rugs, but he was thinking bigger. He saw new windows, air conditioning, fresh siding, even a larger kitchen.
About a year after Nate died, I was finally ready to begin on the plans we’d made together. We painted the rooms and laid down the throw rugs. At Christmas time we tackled the windows. This month our goal was to get rid of the last of the musty cottage smell by way of pulling up the wild orange, yellow and red carpeting in the sunroom. Because of former roof leaks and wobbly floors, everything beneath the carpet had to go, too, an interesting combination of several layers of wood.
After the floor had been rebuilt and prepped for tile, Drew started on the back stairs. As he pulled up the old, carpeted boards one by one, an odd-shaped space beneath the stairway and its two landings became exposed to light for the first time. Although we found storage bins that had been shoved into that small area, daylight illuminated what had been a secret.
A cramped, dark place we thought had been useless has actually been of great use to quite a few others. Sweeping between the stair supports, I found a stash belonging to chipmunks, carefully stacked piles of dry dog food. Spider webs decorated every corner, many of them occupied, and mice had used the area as a bathroom.
When I came to a cluster of acorns, I wondered if Little Red and his squirrel-pals had somehow snuck in there, too. And all this while we’d been upstairs, blissfully unaware of the secret society below us.
As I swept, I thought of my own secret places where tiny sins can move in and live without me noticing. That’s the way Satan wants it, quiet and ignored, until a secret society of sins has taken up residence. By the time I become aware of the neighborhood of nasties I’ve overlooked, it ends up to be a major eviction project.
While Drew continues to make a springtime “mess” toward home improvement, it might be good for me to do some internal spring cleaning… right after I call the exterminator.
“How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” (Psalm 19:12)