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My “home” remedy

So, after completing my five weeks of preaching, which I enjoyed immensely, I had just enough time to bless myself (as my Mum used to say) before travelling to Richmond Hill for a gathering of my wild clan, which I also enjoyed immensely. But all that bible thumping and making merry has seriously depleted my energy stores and I’m finding myself in great need of the healing grace of…wait for it…housework.

I’ll give you a moment to compose yourself after that shock.

Yes, there’s something healing for me about housework. Not the kind of frantic housework you do when you’re expecting company, or after a major plumbing repair. But the ordinary kind. The kind you’re supposed to be doing regularly but gets pushed off the To Do List when more important things come along. Vacuuming. Dusting. That sort of thing. Oh, and tending to your poor neglected houseplants. Mine had started to hiss at me every time I walked by.

“Give me a break, babies. Mama’s had a lot on her mind.”

(If my plants were pets, I’d be in jail right now.)

I’m not quite sure when the last time was I dusted the living room, but people were wearing funny hats and singing about old acquaintances being forgot. You laugh. It’s sweet you think I’m kidding.

Today, I did some laundry and vacuumed, and yes, gave my plants a drink. And as I went from task to task something opened up inside me, relaxed a little in the familiar rhythms of cleaning, organizing, putting things to rights. There’s still a lot more to do (oh mercy! is there a lot more to do!) but it doesn’t feel like chores or drudgery but therapy. I feel a peacefulness in my heart as I perform each simple task and a surprising sense of satisfaction when they’re done. Something I’d knocked out of balance is being fixed, healed, and I find I am so grateful for these ordinary tasks in this ordinary time.

There is a well-known Zen parable about a disciple who asks his master what he must do to achieve enlightenment. The master says, “Chop wood. Carry water.” The disciple carries out these tasks meticulously for ten years, but returns to his master still unenlightened. “Now what should I do?” he wants to know. The old master says, “Chop wood. Carry water.” The disciple obeys and during the next ten years, he does become a truly enlightened being. He returns one last time to his master and asks, “Now that I’ve become enlightened, what tasks should I do?” And you know what the old master replies, don’t you? That’s right. “Chop wood. Carry water.”

And maybe dust your living room once in a while.

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  1. Valerie Hess
    Posted June 9, 2015 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    I do so much better internally when my external environment is not chaos. After being on the road for the last two weeks, my house got a serious going over today as well. I am right with you, sister!

    • Penny-Anne
      Posted June 9, 2015 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      Would this qualify as one of those spiritual disciplines you talk about in your FB groups? Housework as a spiritual discipline. Who knew? :-)

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