Books are the bane of my housekeeping. Books, and bills. Lacking a dedicated study, I tend to pile them up in small heaps: on the table, on a bookcase, in the guest room. This is one reason I love having houseguests: their arrival forces me to get my house in order.
Out come the broom, the trash can, the vacuum; away goes the clutter of everyday detritus. By the time the guest arrives, the place is gleaming, orderly, welcoming. Always, I resolve to keep it like this, but, somehow, it doesn’t happen.
If only it were that easy to clean my soul! I start with the best of intentions: prayer routines, good works, simplicity; then the realities of life press in, and I find myself grasping my shreds of kindness, thinking back to the time I could have helped someone, if only I hadn’t been so busy. I want my soul to be transfigured, gleaming and white like Jesus on the top of the mountain. Instead, it looks more like my bookshelves: good bones, but with all kinds of stuff jammed in.
Sometimes, though, it happens. I see it most often in the very old: faces that the light seems to shine through. Smiles that pour out grace. A deep gentleness and a heart that lives in hope.
There is no formula for getting there, just the daily grind of trying and failing and trying again. The patience of prayer. The daily discipline of love for those who are often all elbows and knees, too rarely loving in return.
When Peter and James and John went up the mountain and saw Jesus shining in white raiment, Peter cried out, “Let us make three booths: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah!” He was trying to hold onto the miracle, not to let it slip away. The disciples did not comprehend that the miracle on offer was even greater: not that Jesus would shine with a bright light, but that we, in our time, would shine, too.