rituals: on being clean (barbara lyon).

Oh lovelies, get ready for today’s words from a real-life friend of mine who insists on grabbing my baby boy every time we’re together.  Why?  Because she knows I need a break.  And that’s who Barbara is: she’s one of those wisdom-filled sages, complete with rough, snarky edges and a mean wit to boot.  So, do yourself a favor and enter into her #rituals post today …and enjoy. 
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First thing this morning I vacuumed the apartment.

That sentence paints a picture, doesn’t it?  I mean, what sort of person am I to begin my day vacuuming?

But the truth is, the vacuuming had been rolled over from the day before and the day before that.  This morning at eight am just happened to be the moment that I could do it.

Is that still too nice of a picture?  Let me paint further.  This morning, directly after my son left for school, I realized with a suddenness that there were few enough toys on the floor that I could possibly pick them up faster than two kids could take them out and if I hurried I could get it vacuumed before the day began and then I wouldn’t have to watch my eighteen month old eat particles of day old popcorn out of the shag anymore.  So, I cleaned up, yelling every time they tried to get out a toy and after finding my baby french kissing the vacuum cleaner for the second time put him in his crib for the duration.

There, the vacuuming was done!

And what is the first thing my daughter wants to get out?  The large bin of miniscule paper pieces belonging to craft time mosaics.

“No!” I said.  Too harsh?  Maybe.  I’m pretty reasonable about messes.  I don’t try to keep it immaculate.  Goodness, I make my kids popcorn!  But, you know, give me a moment to enjoy it before it goes back on the to-do list!

And now about my jeans.  I washed them yesterday.  It is delightful having clean jeans.  It was delightful putting them on, feeling their snugness, and catching that whiff of fabric softener.

And as soon as we get to the bus stop my daughter asks if she can climb my legs.  “No!” I said.  Then, the baby wanted to stand in my lap.  Then, I splash coffee on them, just a bit, you can’t really tell.  And, finally, tonight was multicultural night at school and I fed an eighteen month old fried rice, soba noodle salad, and lasagna in my lap.

It wasn’t pretty, people.  In the now-immortal words of Queen Elsa I had to “let it go”.

All of this has me thinking.  Because in moms’ group we’ve been talking about ritual and the meaning behind the things we do as a family.  And during a collective bout of whining the other night around bath time I cupped my four-year-old daughter’s chin and looked her in the eye.

“Do you know why we give you baths?” I said, “Because God gave you to us to take care of and because I want you to know how good it feels to be made clean.”

So, tonight I scrubbed the soba noodles out of my denim.  And I picked a few cheerios up off the floor (they breed in there!).  And I wondered if this is the ritual my heavenly Father gave me to do, this endless cleaning?  Like a dirty faced child throwing a tantrum against the inevitable scrub, do I misunderstand the favor?  “See how good it feels to make things new, Barbara? Do it again!  Feel my joy at making dirty things clean!”

Today I realized all over again that there will never be a moment in my life when, by the energy of my own industry, I will be able to make everything clean all at the same time.  Thank goodness!  I rather think I need the practice of dependence in this area.

Hmm, I think I might have just given you a spiritual basis for maid service.

You’re welcome.

image1Barbara loves living in San Francisco with her husband and three kids  She works in children’s ministry at her church, blogs at solongsuburbia.com, and writes kids’ books in her spare time.  She goes to the laundromat only when she has to.  It’s Cara again: I mean, is she a straight shooter, or what?  Barbara once told me that when it comes to her kids, she only answers the question asked.  She doesn’t add to it.  And I feel like that’s what she did for us today, too.  So, write her a note of encouragement, will you?

3 thoughts on “rituals: on being clean (barbara lyon).

  1. “Today I realized all over again that there will never be a moment in my life when, by the energy of my own industry, I will be able to make everything clean all at the same time. Thank goodness! I rather think I need the practice of dependence in this area.” Thank you for helping me have this revelation, yet again, for myself today!! This came at the perfect time! Thanks for sharing and being so open. Loved it!

  2. Wow, thank you so much. I have been so far from discovering this beautiful picture of being made clean in my daily haphazard cleaning, so frustrated by the breeding cheerios and impossibility of vacuuming! Now I’m going to print these words out right next to my chore chart and thank the Lord for new mercies every morning.

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