Mormon Volunteer Service“When I was a boy growing up in Salt Lake City, most homes were heated with coal stoves. As a result, black smoke belched forth from almost every chimney. As winter came to a close, black soot and grime were everywhere, both inside and outside of the house. There was a ritual through which we passed each year–not a pleasant one, as we viewed it. It involved every member of the family and was known as “spring cleaning.” When the weather warmed after the long winter, a week or so was designated as cleanup time, and Mother ran the show. All of the curtains were taken down, laundered, and carefully ironed. The windows were washed inside and out, and oh, what a job that was in our big, two-story house! While paper was on all the walls, and Father would bring home cans of wallpaper cleaner that looked like pink bread dough and had a pleasant, refreshing smell. We all pitched in. We would knead some of the cleaning dough in our hands, climb a ladder, and begin on the high ceiling, and then work down the walls. The dough was soon black from the dirt it lifted from the paper. It was a terrible, tiring task, but the results were like magic. When we stood back to compare the dirty surface with the clean, it was amazing to see how much better the clean walls looked, and to notice how dirty the walls had become without our realizing it.

We took up all the carpets and dragged them to the backyard, where they were hung over the clothesline, one by one. Each of us boys would have a carpet beater, a device made of light steel rods with a wooden handle. As we beat the carpet, the dust would fly, and we would keep going until there was no dust left. We detested that work, but when all of it was done and everything was back in place, the result was wonderful. The house was clean; our spirits were renewed. The whole world looked better.

Spring cleaning, metaphorically speaking, is exactly what some of us need to do with our lives. Isaiah said: ‘Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil….Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool’ (Isaiah 1:16-18).”

(Gordon B. Hinckley, Standing for Something, New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000, p. 49.)

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