As I was thinking about all these improvements that need to be done to the house, I was also realizing that if I plan to avoid costly repairs, I really need to do a better job at maintenance. I finally flushed Rid-X down into the septic system last week; that’s something I need to do monthly. I jotted it down on the calendar. Then I remembered the air filters for the furnace. They went on the calendar too. The carpets should be shampooed once or twice a year, and then there’s the weekly cleaning. Where will I find the time for all of this?
The words “maintenance,” “repairs” and “improvements” kept swirling through my head as I thougth about all there is to do. One helps to avoid the others; one remedies failures and problems; one makes everything else worth a little more.
Of course, “maintenance,” “repair” and “improvement” don’t apply just to homeownership.
With plans for sanding doors in my head last Saturday, I laid in bed a little longer than usual, finishing Ruth Haley Barton’s book Sacred Rhythms. While coming to the end of Barton’s words on spiritual disicplines and formation, I initially had the same panicked response as to the to-do list for my house. There’s not enough time. Then I realized the same principles of maintenance, repair, and improvement are at work in our spiritual lives. While Bible reading and prayer may need to be daily disciplines for me, fasting and solitude are more like monthly maintenance. Deep reflection and meditation function in my life as “repairs,” usually required if the daily maintenance has been ignored, and spiritual retreats and extended Bible study are occasional improvements to my life. They make everything worth a little more.
In the last few pages of Sacred Rhythms, Barton guides readers toward a “rule of life,” or a structure of disciplines by which we seek to live in Christ. “Living into what we want in any are of our life requires some sort of intentional approach,” she says. “The desire for a way of life that creates space for God’s transforming work is no different. However, if we look closely at the way we live day to day, we may well notice that our approach to spiritual transformation is much more random and haphazard than our approach to finances, home improvements and weight loss!”
As the house goes, so goes the soul. Maintenance, repair, and improvement.