At the end of a day...

I am a VERY domestic kind of guy:  it gives me great pleasure to get my house cleaned.  I may be sloppy when it comes to landscaping - I get the basics done - but my soul needs a clean living space in order for me to feel rested.
For the past few days, since our return from Ipswich, I have been taking on a different room of the house.  The most pressing for me was my study (above.) Throughout the year I write sermons, newsletters, blogs and so much more from this place.  And as is my habit, I gather articles, newspapers and stacks and stacks of books as each season matures.  That means that 3 or 4 times a year I have to give myself 3+ hours to dig myself out of the clutter.  I also have to dust and wash the floors - I am a get down on your knees kind of scrubber - so that the place FEELS cleansed.
Now, for the first time in six years, I have actually organized my books in my study.  Yes, the CDs are organized, too (although we have about 200 that need to be put into the mix) but it is a grand relief to now have my books and music in some clear order where I can FIND them!

Next came the kitchen:  it is modest and can get cluttered with almost no effort at all.  I found myself washing the floor and cabinets two or three times just to make sure they got a proper treatment.
Then it was on to the living/dining room. I painted this space last year at this time.  And with two or three exceptions, I have not given this room much loving attention for almost a year.  Sure, Christmas decorations and when a few guests joined us, but mostly it was sagging under the weight of clutter, old mail, tea stains and newspapers. It felt good to reclaim this space as one of beauty where I love to rest and reflect.
Tomorrow it is on to the the bedroom and the bathrooms.  I want to get this done before I head out for two days of prayer and retreat before returning to work on Thursday.  Kathleen Norris put it like this in her Quotidian Mysteries: “The ordinary activities I find most compatible with contemplation are walking, baking bread, and doing laundry." One of my friends who has known me since I was a freshman in college, Martha, likes to say that I revel in the quotidian - the ordinary - and make it seem like a celebration.  I think that is mostly true.  One of my favorite psalms is 131:

O Lord, I am not proud;

   I have no haughty looks.
I do not occupy myself with great matters,
   or with things that are too hard for me.
But I still my soul and make it quiet,
like a child upon its mother's breast;
   my soul is quieted within me.
O Israel, wait upon the Lord,
   from this time forth and forevermore.
I also like this quote from Kathleen Norris:

The Bible is full of evidence that God's attention is indeed fixed on the little things. But this is not because God is a great cosmic cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us - loves us so much that the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life. It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is "renewed in the morning" or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, "our inner nature is being renewed everyday". Seen in this light, what strikes many modern readers as the ludicrous details in Leviticus involving God in the minutiae of daily life might be revisioned as the very love of God. 

The thunder storm has come and gone - the power was out and now back on - and soon it will be time for sleep.  It has been a holy day - and Lucie's got the right idea.


Peter said…
An inspiration, James!
RJ said…
Thank you, my man.

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