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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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April 16, 2009

Shaking out the house

I don’t know what it’s like where you are today, but in Chicago it’s the sort of day to throw open the windows and do one of two things—or both. Delve into spring cleaning, or work/play outside.

Unfortunately, I’m in an office cube and doing neither. But I can dream...

For me, cleaning is sort of like playing inside. The writer of an April 5 Chicago Tribune article described spring cleaning this way, “Often, it begins rather like a low-lying itch. The sunlight streams in through the finger-smudged glass in that vernal sort of way. Hmm, really ought to spring clean, you think to yourself. Before you know it, the itch—and the spring cleaning fixation—is driving you crazy. It’s spring, people. Aren’t we hard-wired to sweep the wintry bikkh right out the windows and doors?”

The great hint giver, Heloise, says this in the article: “Spring cleaning comes from back before electricity, when coal-burning lamps left soot all over the place. They literally would open up and shake out the house.”

This “shaking out the house” kicks into high gear before Easter or Passover for many of us. But as for me and my house, we were too busy serving the Lord. So this week as the weather (finally) cooperates we’ll continue to sweep out the “wintry bikkh” and celebrate the change of wardrobe from winter to spring.

Such renewal, after all, is good for the soul. Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky says this about spring cleaning in preparation for Passover, “The process of searching out and eventually ridding ourselves of physical hametz (bread) helps us to find a way to spiritually cleanse the soul.”

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