Once a year, some wonderful parishioners show up at the church with buckets, brushes, and ladders – and wash all the windows. It’s usually on a sunny day when inside and out, the soap is scrubbed on, rinsed off, and squeegeed down to a fabulous, sparkling clean.
The impact of this ministry is immediately seen, as the sun seems to shine more brightly, the trees appear more colourful, and the whole day seems more lovely. The contrast from the dirty, grimy windows is quite dramatic! Obviously the world has not changed, but perception has – the washing accentuates how much dirt had accumulated, and shows a more clear and accurate view.
Those dirty windows didn’t just suddenly get dirty. (Flying birds with seemingly physics-defying aim notwithstanding.) It’s a slow, daily build-up that is so incremental that it’s barely perceptible. Sometimes there’s a slight reprieve, like a good rain – but even that doesn’t provide a thorough cleaning.
Our lives, I suggest, are like these windows. A hurt adds a speck of spiritual dust, an anger provides a smear of emotional dirt, a grudge shows up as an unexpected blob. It’s not a big deal, we might tell ourselves; just a little thing. By holding these hurts, angers, and grudges, we are letting the grime accumulate within us. This prevents our inner beauty from shining out, and the beauty of the world fully getting in.
I suggest that our challenge becomes how we might let the metaphorical washing happen. We can choose to ignore and hope it just washes away, or we can proactively do something about it. We can choose to forgive, knowing that’s a process to endure. We can choose to reconcile, knowing our healing can take time. We can choose to let go of the negative past, knowing that it’s not always easy.
Yet we do this, knowing that it is worth the time and effort. We do this intentional spiritual maintenance, knowing that we do not have to be alone in the journey.
We forgive, having first received forgiveness from God. We love, because God first loved us. We reconcile, because we have been reconciled with God through Christ.
We trust, and reach out in these efforts; turning to God for redemption, turning to our friends and family for advice, turning to our faith community for support. We seek to live out the baptised life in community—the washed in water life—regularly removing the inevitable build up of dirt in our lives.