Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cleaning house

Last weekend, I was blessed to be among the team members for the Koinonia Walk to Emmaus #59. This was my first time to work a Walk since I went on my own in June 2007.

Working a Walk is equally as life-changing and amazing as going on your own. Seriously.

In 2007, I wrote a column for my then-job at the Daily Corinthian and referred to my Walk. I'd like to repeat (ole') it here just for good measure:

If you could be religious about housework, my mother
should’ve been considered a saint. She kept the kind
of home that you could literally eat off the floors at
most any given time.

Mama had no set day to do housework. She believed in
doing a little bit of it every day and would often
remark she was simply “keeping up” with it.

Although she would never admit to it, I almost believe
that Mama enjoyed housework.
A stay-at-home mom, housework wasn’t just a part of
her job. She truly seemed to consider it a way to give
back to her family by providing an orderly and clean
environment in which to live. What we lacked in means
she truly made up for in aesthetics.

My sister apparently inherited that clean gene from
Mama. I wish she would’ve passed on a little of it to
me. It’s not that I don’t have any pride and want to
live in a messy place, I simply don’t have the skill
to do the housework well.

As I was growing up, Mama would try her best to teach
me the simplest of housework tasks. I would eventually
frustrate Mama so much she would end up sending me to
watch TV or read a book rather than wear her patience
thinner with mopping or other household tasks.

She did manage to turn me into a certified dish
washer, though. Mama often remarked that my stacks of
dishes in the drainer should be photographed because
they were regular works of art.

Some folks do spring or fall cleaning in their homes.
Not my mother. As the seasons would begin to change,
she would get the fever to start cleaning out drawers,
tossing out what she deemed unneeded and unuseful
items. This was almost too much for her packrat
husband and packrat youngest child to handle. If I
didn’t meet her time constraints, I knew Mama would
toss out my precious treasures while I was away at
school or away from home so I often tried to oblige.

I could understand the necessity of the events, I just
couldn’t bear to part with some of the things Mama
would classify as junk needing to be tossed. Now
living in the age of eBay, I often wish she hadn’t
been so insistent.

That’s why I thought it funny the other night when a
friend of mine from Tupelo sent an email asking me for
ideas to get out of housework. Little does she know, I
could write a book filled with excuses and other
inventive ways to not mop the kitchen floor or vacuum
the hallway.

All this housework thought didn’t inspire me to shake
out my own humble abode, though. Instead it made me
think about how our lives are very similar. How we
often get so filled with junk that we need to be
cleaned out from time to time. I don’t mean literally,
mind you, though there are times when that probably
should take place. But I mean figuratively.

Sometimes the junk in our lives is obvious. It’s like
the sales receipts I have strewn on my dresser or that
drawer that my computer keyboard sits on. It’s obvious
on a day-to-day basis that I need to clean it up and
throw some of the stuff out. But I just keep looking
at it as I pass it by to do something else.

Some of that junk is like the stuff that is stored up
in my attic. It’s been there so long that I don’t
quite remember what is there. Or it’s been there so
long, like the 8-track tapes in the cardboard box
upstairs, that it no longer has a usefulness in my

Yet I hang on to those tapes for fear I might someday
need them just like I have tried to hang on to the
junk in my life that I thought would eventually have a

Several weekends ago, I got the opportunity to do some
real internal housework during a Walk to Emmaus (#45). For
the first time in a long time, my life feels bright,
shiny and cleaned up. And instead of finding a purpose
for the junk stuffed inside of me, I have begun to
realize more of a purpose for my life and faith in

Now if I can just get as inspired with my housework.