The idea of the spring clean is something that is still very strong in our house. My wife makes a great big list of jobs to do and sticks it up prominently. I am never sure who is going to look, but I always have to dust the tops of the wardrobes. I know one husband who claims he is made to vacuum clean the ceilings.
Sometimes I have to go and reclaim things from the bin the next day – an old transistor radio with a broken switch has been in danger a couple of times and has been discovered in its current hiding place, it will have to be moved to some new place of safety.
Anyway, the spring clean is imminent in our house and various of my treasured possessions will once again have to be defended.
I have piles of old church magazines that are under serious threat this year, and while sorting through some of these to say I had looked through them and that, ‘yes, they were all important’, I found some old notes I had written about 1st January 2002.
The year began with a walk along the beach at Kilcoole. The sky was grey, but the weather was mild and twenty or thirty other people were spread out along the beach. Some walked along the railway line, assuming that on 1st January such a past time was safe. It was surprise to hear the whistle of a locomotive slowly rolling down the line towards Arklow, pulling a string of chemical trucks bound for the fertilizer works.
It couldn’t have been anticipated that before the year was out the factory would be closed and the train would no longer run. Walk the railway line again on 1st January and there will be no locomotive to blow its whistle.
I had completely forgotten that moment; it was certainly a surprise to those who walked along the track!
We rarely think about expecting the unexpected. Life is mostly like a train – we know where it is going, we know what time things happen, we know what problems there might be.
We don’t expect unforeseen things any more than I expect anyone to look at the tops of the wardrobes.
Maybe we need a bit of spring cleaning in our lives – get stuff sorted out, get our relationships sorted out, put things right – as Saint Paul says in the Bible get rid of the bad stuff, the deeds of darkness, and keep the good stuff, the armour of light – because like the walkers in Kilcoole, you never know what might come along.