infinite reflections in the mess on my floor

20 04 2010

Sometimes, I act really stubborn and let the mess get way out of hand at our home, in hopes that Chris will pick up some slack.  Which never happens.  The only thing that happens is I get to clean an incredibly messy house, instead of a mildly messy house.

The last week was one of these weeks.  Cleaning got done, but just the basics: dishes from previous meal, spills on floors and laundry.  The rest went to the wayside.

This morning I woke up knowing that I must clean the house today.  Not only was it out of control, but my landlord was coming over.  I woke up, looked around and went into total panic.

The reason why I want a clean house is not because I value cleanliness as a virtue.  Far from it.  I feel that we are, generally, far too clean for our own goods, and that our immune systems suffer for it.  I am a great proponent of the “eat dirt” philosophy.  However, messes are something different.

I find that when my mind gets cluttered, distracted, panicked, worried, troubled or any other non-peaceful state, my home starts to get messy.  When my home gets messy, I find my mind gets more cluttered, distracted, panicked, worried etc and on and on, infinitely.

No, I like my home clean because I recognize the infinite reflections in the mess I see.  When I see mess, I recognize it as an outward manifestation of an inward feeling.  When I clean the mess, I feel a state of calm returning to the inner space.

Motherhood has really taught me to find the spiritual lessons in all that I do, especially the so-called “mundane” aspects of Life.  Motherhood has removed some of the opportunities I had as a single person to spiritually develop.  I no longer go on retreats, to all night dance parties every weekend, to tons of festivals or to healing workshops.  I no longer have the opportunity to sit and meditate for hours on end uninterrupted.  Many of the outlets for spiritual development that I engaged in, pre-motherhood, are inaccesible to me, when I am committed to the attachment parenting model.

So, I search for spiritual lessons in the garbage, see God in the face of the floor I have wiped for the tenth time and find bliss in washing dishes.  This, I find, is a much more challenging spiritual path, and has led me to more, stronger and subtler spiritual maturity than any fleeting transpersonal experience has.

(as a side note, I think these fleeting moments are necessary, as they give a good perspective.)

I read a book once called “Buddha Mom” which talked about the mindful practice of mothering.  It had a wonderful parable in it, which I will paraphrase for you here:

A monk goes to the mountains to meditate.  After 20 years, a master comes to his cave to see him.  “Master,” he says, “I have spent 20 years meditating on patience.”  The master nods and proceeds to go through the meditator’s cave, messing everything as he goes, tossing his clothes about, overturning his bowl etc.  The meditator is getting angry.  The master breaks his altar and smashes his holy things.  The meditator breaks out yelling “What are you doing, trashing my home like this?”  To which the master replies “Oh, I thought you had been meditating on patience for 20 years.”


When I read this, I truly understand.  Because the mess happens.  My little A, my spiritual master, she teaches me patience.  She shows me the infinite reflections and allows me to work with them in order to continue my evolution.

Now, near the end of the day, the house is not spotless.  I have given up a “goal” to cleaning.  Just as there is no set “goal” for any meditation period, just to sit and be with the process of stilling the mind, so there is no “goal” in cleaning.  Cleaning the house is just as much of an ongoing process as clearing the mind.  My mind will always have thoughts, just as my house will always have mess.  The intention, though, is always to reduce the mess, clean it and clear it, in both mind and home to allow the infinite reflections to bring more peace, rather than more aggravation.




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