Why all this energetic spring cleaning? The weather can’t be blamed – dull and depressing and conducive to curling up with a book. No, a close relative was in hospital undergoing an operation which took most of the day. Later, I rang her husband and learned that all had gone well. I mentioned my wardrobe clear out and he laughed. "I was doing much the same," he said. His wardrobe is now marshalled neatly, not an item out of place.
When we are under pressure, simply tidying a drawer can help restore our equilibrium. Somehow, the act of tidying something up calms and organises the brain. Once finished (apart from the inevitable clutter that will fit in nowhere and has to be left for another time) we find ourselves able to engage with normal life once more. Whenever anyone gets really stuck – say, with an essay, a work deadline or something similar, my advice is ‘find something to tidy up’ – even a kitchen cupboard or a mug rack. Try it and see if it works for you. It’s a win/win situation – because whatever the outcome in terms of your ability to cope with life, at least there will be a corner that is tidier than it was before – and you never know, you might find something you’ve been looking for for ages!
Our news bulletins have been full of the terrible devestation in Haiti, made far worse by the inadequate distribution of aid and the voilent gangs stalking some of the streets. I remember the tsunami and the pictures of people trying to cope with the overwhelming devastation. Again and again, following the shots of people in deep shock, there came pictures of people picking through the remains of their houses in an effort to save something.
The need to set things in order is so deeply rooted in humankind that it acts as a lifeline in times of havoc. I remember watching a programme on tv about the bombing of Coventry. The Government had been fearful that such intense bombardment would first send the civilian population into deep shock and then mass mental breakdown. But it didn’t. The shock, yes, but not the breakdown. Somehow people came out of themselves and painfully began to tidy up. As they did so, they grew stronger and better able to face the challenges that they had to deal with.
Let us help Haiti – but let us pray too, that their inner strength rises to deal with the heartache and horror that surrounds them. We cannot wish it away, but we can hope with them that lives snatched from destruction are made whole and become able to flourish. Buildings fell and crushed and maimed, and in the chaos some betrayed their neighbours and forgot their humanity. But I believe that there is a greatness in us all which can respond in positive, creative force. Right now the people need our helping hands and our unconditional support – ALL are worthy of rescue and help. There may be a time when we understand things better, but for now, let kindness, generosity and humanity be our guides.