Every couple years, military families get the chance of a lifetime to pack up their households, move to unknown places, and put down roots until they are uprooted again. Most military families take the time they prepare to move as a time to do some spring cleaning, whether it happens in the middle of the winter, or after the snow melts. This past year, as we prepared for our first move as a family of four, I wrote a post about how I had to get to a point of letting things get purged – I had to cut my emotional ties with various items we had collected throughout our years together.
A couple months back, I attended a lecture by a chaplain friend about how to incorporate the corporal and spiritual works of mercy into daily living. When he addressed the Corporal Work of Mercy of “Clothe the Naked,” he specifically pointed out the issue of modesty. He stated, “Don’t donate the clothes you have discarded because you wouldn’t wear them anymore because your tastes have changed.” I took it to mean that we should not donate our old booty-shorts because our figure doesn’t allow for them anymore (okay, I have never owned a pair of booty shorts, thank you very much), and don’t donate the clothing that is filled with stains and holes; instead, we should focus on donating the gently-used clothing that we would be willing to wear again tomorrow – if our figures allowed, if the clothes were mended, etc.
Before attending his lecture, I had always looked at donating my children’s clothes with the rule of thumb: donate the clothes I would be willing to put back on my child, if they were that size again. However, I never quite used that rule of thumb with my own clothing donations. I never even thought about it!
So, as I began my pre-move purge this year, I was more mindful of the clothes I was willing to donate – would they
(if I were gainfully employed, not having to bend over and pick up children, and back to a pre-child figure) be clothes I would be willing to still wear? Would they be clothes that would embrace the dignity of the person wearing the garment? Would they be clothes I would allow my own daughter to wear out of the house?
As I have learned more about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, I have realized this act of spring cleaning for military families is the perfect time to put this specific work of mercy to use.
These works of mercy aren’t just for Catholics – they are for anyone in their walk on this earth. They are a way to give back to those less fortunate, and to do some good to make others smile and feel loved. Something as simple as spring cleaning annually, or every couple years, is a fantastic way to allow another person or family feel rejuvenated as they go about their day.
Every couple years, military families get an opportunity to give back to our local civilian communities! Instead of simply throwing away items, we can donate our unused clothing or household goods (i.e. pots and pans, dishes, knick-knacks, things that make a house feel homey) to a local shelter, or to a local clothing and goods donation site. We can give back to the community that (hopefully) lovingly welcomed us in during our temporary stay.
What an awesome opportunity to achieve such a simple act of mercy!