Notice your breathing.

With each breath, become aware of the love with which God looks at you in this moment.

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Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and celebration again; let the bones you crushed rejoice once more. Hide your face from my sins; wipe away all my guilty deeds! Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me! Please don’t throw me out of your presence; please don’t take your holy spirit away from me. Return the joy of your salvation to me and sustain me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:7-12

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I cleaned my room today. Sorted through junk. Found treasures I’d forgotten about. Threw away all the trash that had piled up and was hiding the good stuff. Opened windows. Now it’s open and fresh.

Cleaning my heart is similar. The psalmist cries out, “Create a clean heart for me, God!”

Here’s a simple, ancient practice* for heart-cleaning:

Every night, sit with God and sort through the clutter. First, find the treasures of the day by asking: What am I most grateful for? When did I feel close to God today? And then talk with God about all this.

Next, look for dirty socks and smelly stuff. I do this by noticing where it hurts and where I probably failed to do what I should have done. I invite God into this mess. And I ask for forgiveness and healing where I need it.

Finally, look toward tomorrow. Share your hopes and dreams with God. Say thank you. Say goodnight.

The season of Lent begins tomorrow. Might this be your practice for the next 40 days?

Jane Hartwell

*This prayer practice, called the Examen, was created by St. Ignatius over 500 years ago.

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God, thank you for the ways that you help me to sort through the clutter of life. Thank you for a fresh start each day. Amen.

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Whenever you find yourself journeying through a wilderness,

struggling with temptation, with weakness,

fearful of the shadows in your heart,

remember the words of Paul:

“I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.”

Romans 8:38-39

Jane Hartwell

Jane Hartwell was the Youth Missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, where she enjoyed creating retreats with teens. She lives in Portland, Maine.

A Holy Moment

Ken Medema

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