faith, Pandemic Wisdom

A Spring Cleaning for the Soul

Did you know spring cleaning is a phenomenon across the world? It must be wired into us, the need to clean after the dark night of winter is over. Spring cleaning happens across cultures and religions.

According to Wikipedia, some researchers trace spring cleaning back to the Iranian Nowruz, the Persian new year, where khaneh tekani occurs which literally means shaking the house. It can also be traced back to the ancient Jewish practice of cleaning the home in anticipation of the festival of Passover. In the Catholic church there is a longstanding tradition of cleaning the church altar and everything associated with it during Holy Week. Country by country, culture by culture, we all seem to have some spring cleaning imbedded in our rituals and habits.

I’m seeing a need in myself this year for a deeper kind of cleaning. I’d like to propose a nice Soul Cleaning as we head toward Easter.

The women who have attended my Soul Spa events may remember I talk there about Soul Dehydration and Soul Damage. These are soul conditions inflicted on us by our busy lives, stress and distractions as well as some of the deeper trauma and damage that happens to us over our lifetimes. All are serious conditions that need our attention.

In her new book, Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage, writer Anne Lamott talks about Soul Smudges or the fact that our souls can become dirty as we trudge on through hard things. She asks, is there is some kind of Soul Windex we can use to clean things up a bit? She acknowledges the huge toll the pandemic has cost our souls. She asks, in addition, Is the soul damaged by acne, political madness or unloving parents? I think so, she writes, damaged, but not mortally so. It (the soul) becomes callused, barricaded, yet it’s always there for the asking, always ready for hope. Citing our Soul Spa theme Bible verse, Mark 8:36, she reminds us that Jesus said our soul was more important than the entire world. What good is it if you gain the whole world, but lose your soul?

She writes about Soul Dirt. It is just damaging being here on this earth, she writes. Our souls can feel cloudy. We get smudged by the detritus of addictions, regrets, finances, guilts and sorrows, The world leaves grubby fingerprints all over everything: our hearts, minds, hope. (Dusk, Night, Dawn p. 26).

As we celebrate spring, clean our homes, look out from our dark night of this past year, how is your soul? Is it smudged and in need of cleaning too?

Mine is. She is poking her head out into this new resurrection world, squinting from the light, frightened, scathed, weary, glazed over with caked on smudges in streaks and splotches speckled with an all over grime.

For her, I will fill my spring cleaning bucket with good things: prayer/journaling/spiritual reading. Nature. I will pay attention to see how God’s Word is infused into springtime. I will give her long walks, yoga and grace. I will allow her to move slowly into new life and take her time adjusting. I will fill her vessel, my body, with good foods and lots of hydrating water so my soul can look out more clearly, cleaned and refreshed.

Thank God, thank science, for this new day we are waking up to enjoy. Thank God for creating us with souls to anchor us to God’s Spirit. Thank God for creating souls like bodies, washable and capable of healing. It’s time, our DNA says, countless religions and cultures say, to clean up our souls and see clearly what God has for us to see this spring.

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. Go to for past blogs, upcoming events, information on the Weekly Jesus Calling Prayer Call she co-hosts on Tuesday mornings at 7 a.m. CST. You can sign up there for Cindy’s Inner Circle, a monthly Top Ten List. Sign up by March 31 for the April list which is more on this topic of new life and how to re-emerge from the darkness of the past year. Women: see information on the website about a Soul Spa 2.0: Soul Tending in Uncertain Times, in-person and virtual retreat hosted at Camp Gilmont in East Texas in April. All women are invited. The in-person group will practice social distancing, mask-wearing and utilizing the beautiful outdoor campground spaces as we connect to one another and to God.

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