Cleaning days…

I’ve been cleaning drawers, closets, clutter, my floors. I’m preparing for a new season, for the tree, decorations, family, and lots of little white lights, but before I do the next big thing, I need to clear some space. I love the smell of freshly washed floors, the way the windows seem wider when they are newly clean. I love touching and fluffing and putting things in their places. I adore throwing away bags of trash.

There is something about clearing the decks that appeals to me in this season. So much has changed in my life, but this tangible relationship to my home remains. When I was younger, housework often got the better of me. Now, my home and I have called a truce, my expectations are simple and straight forward. I don’t ask my house to perform or impress. We work together to serve the people we love. The sticky floors and the cobwebs don’t phase me. Most of the time, I don’t even notice. But, when I need to clear my head and sort through my heart, this space is often just the place to start.

There are no screens when you clean. No one interrupts, because I would put them to work. It’s amazing how quickly my house can clear out when I get a good cleaning on.

As I shift and move the furniture, open drawers, sort out cabinets, wash, wipe, and put things away my mind is free to go where it will. As I get to the bottom of the pile, my heart and mind often find the bottom of the trouble. A way of seeing, of being that is causing clutter or pain. Accumulated wear that needs attention. Just like the clutter in my home, my heart snags on my daily life, grime and grit wear me down, and life contorts me in uncomfortable shapes along the way.

These days, I am thinking about moving forward. I am preparing, growing, learning new skills. Sometimes that feels freeing and filled with possibility. Other times, I am just tired. It’s hard to start over. There are questions without answers and the future is unknowable. It feels vulnerable. New things are growing in my life, but they are still tender and fragile. I made the leap and I’m walking it out, some days with joy and freedom, others with fear and trepidation… if I’m honest.

I’m also thinking about what I brought with me to this new place. A change of scenery doesn’t change everything. I am finding that I am the same, in this new space. Sometimes, that’s comforting and energizing, other times, like today, it’s a drag. I am freshly aware that the external pressures are nothing compared to the inner pressure I live with. Deadlines, strategies, office politics have nothing on my inner drive to push and propel myself forward, or the worry and anxiety I inflict on my own life. It’s this inner pressure I must eventually address, if I want to live differently. That is daunting.

I am realizing this pressure cooker, is actually my life. If I want it to be different, I need to be different. I am trying to figure out what needs to change, how I need to change… to make that happen. I am listening to my life, my relationships, and my soul. I’m listing to the frustration, fatigue, and failure. My emotions educate me, when I don’t blame them on others. Close relationships also provide a safe space to open my thoughts and vulnerabilities, when I let them. Paying attention to the gaps, dark spots, and worn fabric of my life offers additional insight. But all of these things take time and intention. I must participate in this process, regularly, honestly, daily.

In this season, I am digging deep in the practices that provide both refuge and challenge to my soul. Prayer, scripture, and journaling are among my favorites. Here I find healing and rest when I commit to honesty and vulnerability. Like the corners and edges of my house, my soul needs some effort and attention these days. I’m beginning to see that my calendar is only one part of this problem, the real challenge is restoring rest and calm on the inside. I don’t believe this will be a one time, epiphany and then all is right in the world. Instead, I am learning new ways of thinking, learning how to rest, letting go of the need to perform, and finding that we are just beginning. I have only just begun, but I find peace in the process. So, I’ll keep pulling things out of the cupboards, sorting, deciding what will stay and what will go, and putting things back in order… both inside my life and outside it.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:23

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