Tag Archives: cleaning

One Season Out of Many

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“Love is patient.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4

Greetings, Kind Readers,

I posted this over at thecatholicyogi.com, but I felt it was fitting for this space, as well.  I hope you enjoy the prose in the midst of all the poetry.

It is a new year in the Christian Church calendar, and a new season is coming for all. We are practicing Advent at our house these days, the season of preparation. We are attempting to sweep out the dust and junk to make room for pretty trees and bright lights; we are readying the house for wonder and magic, renewal, peace, hope, and joy. The kids ask, loudly and with great passion, “Why do we have to clean before we decorate?!” Living long enough, we realize it just doesn’t feel quite right to decorate over dirt. So, insted of getting overwhelmed, we take our time, picking up, putting away, wiping this, and shining that. We have weeks ahead of us, and not everything must be completed in a day.

All this physical work is the manifestation of the spiritual discipline going on inside, successes and failures. The kiddos roll their eyes at me when I talk about sweeping out our hearts. “Sweep out our hearts!” I exclaim as I sweep through the house. “Sweep out the anger! the whinning and pouting! the self-pity!” Of course, I am exclaiming these things first to myself. See, the children are a miraculous aid in undestanding, and in the daily practice of loving and being loved. Without them I am nothing, and my spiritual practices lie dormant at best, absent at worst, devoured by self-centeredness. But with the little ones at my feet I am mindful of them and the presence of God.

Advent is four weeks long. I tell the children we will clean out our heart of all the negative stuff that has collected in our absent-minded way of moving through the days, and each week we will decorate our hearts with virtue. My husband has chosen Patience, Understanding, Kindness, and Honesty as the qualities our family will cultivate for Christmas, gifts we will give to each other, and so to Christ.

Certainly, as members of Humanity, as Christians, and Yogis, we are called to grow these goodnesses in our hearts and spread them all year, daily living mindfully, living and practicing the presence of God. But seasons help us focus. So today, join us in practicing patience and long-suffering. Its well is deep and full.

Happy Advent, Happy Practicing!

“The word mindfulness is not used [much] in Christian and Jewish circles because mindfulness is a Buddhist word. But what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is to be aware of everything you do every day. Mindfulness is a kind of light that shines upon all your thoughts, all your feelings, all your actions and all your words. Mindfulness is the Buddha. Mindfulness is the equivalent of the Holy Spirit, the energy of God.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Autumn comes cleanly into my day.

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Autumn comes cleanly into my day.
It has us wearing jackets
and opening windows, stacking books
and rearranging toys; it has us moving furniture
and wiping baseboards, walking to school
and praying in church.

The three little ones and I stop in at the sanctuary.
We are there with two women, mopping and dusting,
and we have our first practice sitting with God.
Jesus in the tabernacle; Jesus in our heart.
It lasts twenty seconds.
(Success!).

After nap we pop outside for swinging and soccer,
but the two youngest stoop beside our out-of-service flower-pot,
spying rain around the bottom, and dip their hands
in the dirt-flecked water.  Over and again:  “Amen.  A-men!” he says,
fingers touching forehead.  “Amen,” she smiles, crossing herself.
Christ comes cleanly into my day.

Nature

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My soul must be crooked –
not curved – I mean. It must
have angles and open boxes,
not fissures, cracks, or splits,
but myriad unclosed cubes.

For as round as my universe is,
for all the atmosphere and vaporous aura,
for the spheres of planets and bright balls of gas
shining around my sky, my soul must have
corners.

My windows fit into hollow columns
in which they are slid up and down.
The columns allow for crevices on the sill
and there collect all the bits of ground and air
thrown at the house as it stands in the weather.

Over the years the dirty stuff turns to muck
and the muck hardens. So I soften it with water
and wipe out the black soil, brown pine needles,
white-ish bird droppings and iridescent fly carcasses,
flinging it all into the yard below.

This is stubborn work. I use a thick, strong knife,
and soft cotton swabs, and yet some triangles
of muck remain. The clean sill shines and looks like
beginning. The tiny corners look
suspicious.

There is a smooth, curvaceous love
inside my soul. Yet, it lives within
some flat walls, a free-will-construction
I don’t quite understand,
and even though I let
Christ’s waterfall
pour and power out
the muck,
and even though I shine
a new beginning,
and even though I take
knife
and
swab,
water
and
rag,
my corners
collect the muck
that divides,
and traps.

I know that smooth curvaceous love
is Christ’s. I must listen for it. Ask him to fill in my
corners, to round me out, make my soul spherical,
like the innumerable cellular structures of my body,
like the ever-advancing curve of time and space,

let my unclosed cubes take on
the elliptical pathways of planets,
protecting love from my mired,
messy corners, letting love sail
beyond my edges

and swoop back,
giving and receiving
in a bolstered, mysterious
free-will-construction
I will some day understand.

“Confession is a beautiful act of great love.   Only in confession can we go in as sinners with sin and come out as sinners without sin.” ~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta