Cleaning Up

by Michael McGinnis

Recently it was time for another trip to Whitehorse on the weekend. I came home after work planning to drive off immediately. But I was tired, there were dirty dishes on the counter and I didn't feel right about leaving then. I stayed home, had a good sleep, and in the morning cleaned up the kitchen and then knew it was time to go. My clean dishes and kitchen made all the difference in how I felt about leaving the house. I have learned the truth of cleanliness as a source of quiet satisfaction.

Sometimes it is a struggle -- when there is a lot going on at work and meetings to go to at night, or when there just isn't enough energy to get everything done, I get behind. But I clean up more frequently and better now than I used to because I can feel the difference it makes in myself.

Learning to pay more attention to cleaning has also improved my sight: seeing with my eyes and with my inner vision. Cleaning up around the house I have noticed small things that were always there. I was barely aware of them before but they sometimes niggled negatively at the back of my mind. As one example I removed some old screw hooks that were in the wrong place and felt I had taken another tiny step towards getting my house to the way it should be. It doesn't take much to establish a forward momentum in the changes that you make in your life. Even a single, small, permanent improvement around the house changes the tone a little -- and this reflects inside you as well.

Cleaning also helped me see what I could do to make things better -- it opened my imagination in a new direction. In my imagination I saw my kitchen walls repainted, and from a dream I learned that I should paint my kitchen light yellow. But the urge and need to paint had come first out of cleaning.

There is a satisfying growth of order in the cleaning process. As my house becomes less disordered, my thoughts are more ordered and at peace. Purifying the home contributes to purifying Soul, by bathing it in more wholesome and healthy surroundings. It also makes a difference how I approach cleaning mentally. When I do each step with care and appreciation for my activity, it makes me realize that being there and doing just that task is exactly where I should be.

Closely related to cleaning are sorting, filing and discarding mail, documents and assorted small items around the house. The effect of all of these activities is to transform a house to a place which is inviting to be in. There is an equally large impact on thought patterns in clean, ordered surroundings: thoughts have greater transparency and clarity.

A final example sums up my greater involvement and investment in this state of awareness. I used to dread going downstairs to my cat's litter box and put off the horrible moment as long as possible. When I got down there, it really was horrible! Now I go down every couple of days. I use the clumping cat litter and clean the cat's box with very little waste while the cat gives me verbal encouragement from the sidelines. Something I avoided before has become a social occasion with my cat (perhaps I should get out more!). Such is the pride of the homeowner. Such are the benefits of cleanliness.

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