I packed the holiday decorations away, which isn’t a process I dread. Sure, I miss the lights of the tree and the variety of colors, but I know they are special because of the limited season. If they became my year-round decorations, I wouldn’t enjoy them as much.
As we pack away the decorations, we have to deal with what’s left behind. I always keep some winter decorations out for a couple months after the new year. It’s my way of keeping a little festive spirit through the cold, short days of winter. But there is a lot of shifting that needs to happen. I move some things around, and I reintroduce some small touches I’ve packed away during Christmas. And I have to clean. It’s not like I don’t clean often, but just the moving around of a tree and decorations leaves behind a bit of mess. I don’t just cover it up or shift it to the side; I deal with it.
That’s what happens when we pack away the festivities: we deal with what’s there. What have we left behind? What needs to be shifted, cleaned, or replaced? If we’re authentic in the way we live, one situation connects to another. One experience impacts another. One attitude leads into another. We sometimes want to take the highs of an experience and leave the rest behind, but all that happens is the mess mounts and ends up impacting the possibility of the next experience. What we don’t deal with limits what’s next.
When I consider hope and joy, I think about anticipation and freshness. It’s not that everything is brand new, but I’ve dealt with the cleaning process—of my experiences, thoughts, and priorities—and am ready for something new. Sometimes it’s not brand new, because it’s building on something from the past, but I’m more prepared. I’m more purposeful. It’s never a minimizing or ignoring of what’s behind. It’s keeping everything in a perspective of purpose and preparation. It’s a constant attentiveness to what’s filling our space, including our minds and hearts.
What needs to be cleaned up and rearranged in your life today?