Monday, April 25, 2011

Termite update

The termites have been treated! Yay!

And in the process, I got to clean out our coat closet and rearrange my kitchen in a way that makes much more sense; our builder decided it would be a great idea to put the hot water heater in the pantry, but after a few early battles with pantry moths we long ago moved the food to separate cabinets and put a conglomeration of dishes in the "hot water pantry." After today's termite treatment, I decided to relocate the dishes we actually eat from to a different cabinet altogether, and to keep the "hot water pantry" for the pots, pans, trays, etc. I should have done this so long ago! The pantry we moved the dishes to has tons more room than the narrow pantry shelves did, and having all my cooking dishes in the pantry means not having to hunt among several cabinets to find one of those pots you don't use all that often (you moms know what I mean--you have at least one of those).

So, of course, the termites made me think about sin.

Don't we, often, put off tackling some vice or bad habit out of sheer inertia? We think we're not really doing so badly; we realize that sometimes we're struggling more than we ought to be, but really there's not anything so terribly wrong with us, right?

But just as the termites in our house were secretly building a mud-tunnel behind the wall of the coat closet (which backs up a bathroom), our small sins and bad habits and imperfections are secretly building a similar structure in our souls. If we leave it alone, eventually those things will start to eat away at our virtues just like the termites wanted to start eating away at the wood (and luckily, it looks like they didn't actually accomplish any of that--we have no structural issues at all!). Sometimes we'll get a shocking reminder that we really do have some problems to deal with: with the termites it was the sudden and scary appearance of the swarmers in our home, but with sin, I think it's those moments when we think over our days and realize that we are ashamed of ourselves, of something we did or said, some way we presented ourselves, some vice we gave into--and that these bad habits and sins are starting to swarm around us, becoming ever more visible and ugly to those we love.

So we go to confession and we tackle the sin--and that's a great start. But then we have to look around at what else needs to be done. In the termite comparison, the gentleman who treated our house cut a hole in the closet wall facing the plumbing pipes, sprayed a termiticidal foam, and installed a plastic "door" in the wall that we can open periodically to make sure the critters don't return. And I relocated the dishes, not because the hot water heater had attracted the bugs, but because it theoretically could, and so it, like all the plumbing areas in the house, was treated as well.

If we find ourselves going to confession again and again for the same sins (and who doesn't), it may be because we've failed to look around the house of our souls to see the areas where the sins are getting in, so to speak, and to rearrange what needs to be rearranged, change what needs to be changed, and weed out or remove the clutter that keeps us from remaining vigilant.

Here's the problem, though: sometimes we know that. We realize that things aren't perfect in our soul's house. We know that something is out of order, that something needs to change. But as each day goes by, the inertia I mentioned before keeps us struggling to live with an imperfect situation (dishes scattered randomly, a coat closet overwhelmed, a soul untidy and prone to disorder) rather than begin what appears to be a Herculean task of reordering, cleansing, restructuring, and purifying--to say nothing at getting a peek behind a wall of our interior castles to find out whether we've allowed anything dark and noxious to build a home there.

The next time some part of my life seems to be swarming out of control, I hope I can remember this lesson. The process of eradicating sin is a lifelong effort; sadly, there's nothing that can keep sin at bay as long as termites can be kept away. But we do have the Mass, the sacraments (especially confession), and our connection to the life of grace to help us grow stronger, and to keep the effort going, so that we don't slide into the inertia of spiritual sloth, or think that our vices or sins or faults are far too great a problem to be tackled at all.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Great analogy. Thanks for sharing!