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Spring Cleaning, Spring Fever, and Spiritual Renewal

Monday 26 March 2018 at 5:25 pm.

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for March 22, 2018, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

            In a few days, Holy Week begins with the countdown to Easter. This is my first time in 18 years not to be busy preparing the special services for Holy Week and Easter Sunday, and, while it makes life easier for me, I miss the excitement of getting ready to lead the celebrations of Palm Sunday and the Resurrection of our Lord, not to mention Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. It’s a time of spiritual renewal just as the Spring season is a time of physical renewal, and the two converge.

            In the early church, catechumens wore white as they were baptized into the church on Easter Sunday, their new white gowns symbolizing a new life in Christ. I’m guessing that the tradition of wearing a new Easter dress on Easter morn came out of the same symbolism.

            Interestingly enough, Easter comes in the Spring when nature also celebrates new life. Trees begin budding out, wild flowers peep out between the blades of grass in your backyard, and, in some places, even blue bonnets begin to bloom. As I look out the window, I see that my native pecan tree still hasn’t started budding out, but the other trees have, the fig tree almost fully leafed out. My mother always said that until the native pecan trees budded out, you could still have a freeze before Easter, but I rather doubt that this year.

            To make things more difficult for Easter celebrations, Spring Cleaning and Spring Fever descend upon us about the same time as Holy Week. “Spring cleaning” is a time when wives hide their husband’s golf clubs or fishing rods and have carpet cleaning equipment, window washing rags, brooms and mops waiting beside the breakfast table. Spring Cleaning seems to be in the DNA of most Southern women, and they become even more fervent about it, because guess who’s spending time with you during the Easter weekend? It’s likely to be the most fastidious member of your family, whether aunt, mother-in-law, or grandmother; and you just don’t want her to have a stroke at the sight of your messy house.

            Here we run into a major problem, in that Spring Fever occurs at this very same time, and, even though the mind may be willing, the body is not. Spring Fever is that malady which makes you incapable of dragging yourself out of bed, much less having the energy to dip a mop in a bucket of water. In fact, some years, I have had Spring fever so bad neither a swarm of bees nor a horde of yellow jackets could sting me awake. While all of nature is bursting with the energy of renewal, you feel like the last rose of summer. Spring Fever used to interfere with my preparations for Holy Week, but the Holy Spirit always got me through it in flying colors.

            Since the best cure for Spring Fever is playing golf (for some) and going fishing (for others), this may be a time of struggle. Before I retired, I used to blame my lethargy on allergies and hoped that my wife and others would accept that explanation for my being a sluggard and let me avoid Spring Cleaning. Not that it’s so terrible; actually, Spring Cleaning today is a piece of cake. Back in the old days in Dime Box, it meant cleaning the barn and chicken houses as well as our living quarters. And since Mama didn’t recognize allergies as a medical fact, there were no excuses. The chickens didn’t like it any better than I did. I mean, Mama made us swab the inside of the chicken houses with creosote, and believe me, creosote doesn’t smell like country flowers potpourri.

            The fact is Spring Fever attacks you whether you’re working an 8 to 5 job every day or if you’re completely retired. It’s also a fact that Spring Cleaning doesn’t seem any more appealing to an old, retired man than it does to a young man suffering the stress of a difficult job. But what does help a Christian in the Spring is Spiritual Renewal, and that’s why Holy Week and Easter are such truly superb opportunities to recharge your life! It starts with Palm Sunday.

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Ray Spitzenberger is a free-lance writer and artist who lives in East Bernard with his beautiful wife Peggy and spoiled cat Gatsby.

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