As a child I was particularly fond of playtime (as I suppose is true for most of us.) I was not, however, particularly fond of “clean up” time – which inevitably follows. Basically, pulling toys out, spreading them across the room, drawing with crayons or paints… is a lot more fun than putting them back on the shelves, wiping up the spills and restacking the blocks. (Unless you have your own version of Mary Poppins, a spoonful of sugar and a little magic on the side.)
As an adult, I have undertaken multiple house projects, many of which I enjoy. There are two tasks however, of which I am still not particularly fond; procuring all the materials AND cleaning up. This includes removing the debris created during the project, returning tools to their storage area and figuring what to do with scraps of wood, drywall, unused bolts and screws. (I may need that 3” section of wood later). At the end of a project (or a period of work), it is so easy just to move onto the next demand. This is usually the time when energy and time are at their lowest.
This happens in our personal life as well. We invest energy in the preparation and the occasion (family gathering, vacation, meal…) but once it is over we move on to the next event. We forget to “reflect on” and savor the moment or clean up any messes. Skipping this step, we may miss the opportunity to carry the experience forward.
This happens in our church community life as well. We invest a lot of energy on the front end of an event or project, planning coordinating, gathering the materials, setting up and then holding the event or completing the project. At this point, our energy and plan for “cleaning up,” wanes. We move on. There are two elements to “cleaning up” that are important in our community life.
1. We need to make sure we have arranged for putting our toys and our tools back. Returning a chair, a microphone, an extension cord… borrowed from another room, ensures that the next user of the room or equipment will find them, and not have to spend time searching.
2. We have the opportunity to learn from the event. What went well? How can we make it be even better in the future? What did we learn? Are there opportunities to build on the relationships and discoveries we have just experienced?
May we discover the joy and possibilities of “cleaning up,” of setting the stage for new adventures in ministry and service in Christ’s company.