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Saturday, July 14, 2012 - Page updated at 08:00 p.m.

Faith & Values
Spiritual housekeeping may turn up long-lost treasures

By The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter
Special to The Seattle Times

The lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer are upon us. Vacations are in full swing. Cruise ships and the new giant Ferris wheel highlight Seattle's waterfront. While some are going away for vacation, others are remaining close to home and relishing their staycations.

Summer frequently gives us an opportunity to slow down and to get started on that honey-do list — the list of things around the house we ask our spouses, partners or honeys, to do. Household repairs, automobile service and yard work are typical honey-do fare. Summer is a good time to tackle those larger tasks that appear more daunting in the cold of winter.

Not only is maintenance and upkeep of our homes and cars important, it is critical that we pay attention to our physical and spiritual well being.

Vacation from our normal routines can free up time and energy for a spiritual inventory. We are more than flesh and blood. We are spirit. While we cannot get away from commercials to spruce up our homes and bodies, we do not find many ads to be quiet and listen to the still, small voice within. Yet, what is going on spiritually inside of us can have a huge impact on what we accomplish around us.

Spiritually, we may be carrying baggage that prevents us from being at peace with ourselves. That spiritual disease may be the resentment we feel toward one who has hurt us. Although we have forgiven the offender, the wound is slow to heal.

Or perhaps our lack of peace is rooted in our inability to forgive ourselves. Those who are high achievers and have high expectations of themselves can find it difficult to forgive when they are less than perfect.

Our spiritual inventory need not always be to assess what is wrong or lacking. Our inventory can be a time of thanksgiving. Good health, a good night's sleep, family, shelter, the beauty of nature are all reasons to give thanks. I often wonder if those who see life as a glass half empty ever stop to really count their blessings.

It is amazing how we find treasures we never realized we lost when we do that deep summer cleaning. That pretty sweater that got shoved to the back of the shelf amazingly reappears in nearly mint condition. The potting soil miraculously appears once order is restored in the gardening shed.

When we stop to count our blessings and get our spiritual lives in order, we realize we are surrounded by treasures galore.

When cleaning, there is a fine line between trash and treasure. Yesterday's keepsake is today's clutter. Thrift shops do a booming business because one person's trash is another person's treasure. Every day we have to make choices as to what to keep in our lives and what to cast aside.

While it makes sense to get rid of ashtrays and food beyond its expiration date, people need to be treated with much more care. Yet, how often does it appear that the least, the lost and the lonely are cast aside like yesterday's memories.

Sometimes we have to take a second look at what we are about to discard, in order to see its real value. I recently spoke with a photographer friend who finds beauty in what most people never stop to see. To her, a fading rose with brown edges is still a source of beauty.

No matter how many faded or wrinkled edges we may have, we are always God's treasures. God never discards us nor give up on us. It is a grace thing — for which we can all give thanks.

The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and senior benefits consultant for American Baptist Churches in the USA. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com

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