Cleaning and Cleansing (and maybe some mild Cursing)!

On any given day, my wild imaginings do not include household chores. Are you surprised?

Faced with an overwhelming chore about two weeks ago, I now reflect on the trouble that became a necessity.

Sis is moving. She has a rental behind her main home. A single Mom with 3 quite young children resided there, in my absence. Because of my absence, actually. Being a Mom of two, I  didn’t expect to see perfection. I was not disappointed in that expectation.

I beheld what my sister had a few days prior to my arrival:  crayon chaos and more dirt and grime than I had ever seen in a home, before. It was mind-blowing and overwhelming. Where to even start?

First, I felt guilt for vacating the premises and moving back to Michigan. This was partly, maybe mostly, my fault. Having lost my job to technology, I could not send the rent money. This necessitated moving someone in who could.

A lovely friend of my sister’s, Lisa, arrived to lend her assistance. She was a little dynamo! She had no emotional connection to the place, so she could organize and make non-emotional decisions about what needed to be done. We debated on a few things and she laughed at my struggle. I admit, I accused and criticized the former tenant, rather mercilessly. And felt justified in doing so.

Lisa convinced brother-in-law to lend us a “boom box” on day two. That was a definite help. We cleaned, scrubbed, washed, and she painted. We shared some of our life experiences. We griped together. We cried together. We had a few good laughs, too. Amid the disaster, I was blessed.

I had grandiose ideas while riding in on the bus (another story for another time) and train. They fell to the sad reality. My limitations with bulging discs kept me from flying through the tasks as I would have liked. Slowing down, though, allowed me to be rather thorough and to have time to assess, ponder, and whine to God.

There was the aforementioned crayon drawings everywhere, some regular penciled sketches thrown in to add interest; old foodstuff glued to the floor; assorted grime and grease; some delicate cobwebs; dirty dishes; a bit of abandoned clothing; broken and dirty windows and filthy sills; sagging curtain rods…

Giving up on helping little sister pack up her own things, I decided to concentrate on cleaning up that little apartment-sized home. Lisa finished painting the front bedroom and it was a near-miraculous transformation – that little bit of whitewashing. Hope amid the “unnatural disaster”. It gave me a goofy kind of courage to just keep keeping on.

“Just what makes that little ole ant think he can move that rubber tree plant (which would have succumbed to the extensive several types of pollution.); anyone knows an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant. But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes…”

Little by (no, teeny tiny by nearly imperceptibly microscopic) little, things began improving. Dishes were done and stove and refrigerator surfaces were cleaned. Clothing on lower level was bagged and stowed in closet. A screwdriver is quite useful, beyond the normal and obvious reasons. Such as, digging out something stuck on a tile floor. Cupboards were washed, inside and out. A most hideous and apparently ruined kitchen table was restored with a soaking of liquid cleaner for about an hour. You could never tell – were it not for that missing leg. Inspection showed that a new nut and bolt would remedy that. I blessed my Playtex gloves.

It was an exhilirating experience to be able to mop that kitchen floor pretty close to clean, after two tries! My little semi-clean refuge amid the dirt holocaust.

I needed a “simpler” job after that kitchen, so next cleaned the little room off the living room, which I had used as an office area. That didn’t take too long, at all, comparatively.

Eventually, I had to start on the living room. My body was sore and moving even a bit slower, but I was being very guarded so I could continue working. While working in there, I realized that the rest of the painting could not be done with those dirty, dusty walls. One step forward; two back. Where was Samantha and her twitchy, magic nose when I needed her?

The great wall mopping adventure actually did not last nearly as long as I dreaded. I did accidentally dump over the bucket, but only once! It did make a difference, though I’m not sure it was as large as I imagined!

And, finally, the living room floor mopping. Oh, that poor, over-worked, under-appreciated sponge mop! It had stared straight into mop-hell and went marching right in! I never emptied and refilled a bucket of mop water so many times in a relatively short period! Usually, it would take about nine months to do that many refills!

I had a lot of opportunity for reflection during this time. A lot of it was blaming and not good. Some of it may have not been fit for print! Then, I started to think about an overwhelmed, single mother with no help to support three little children, other than the revolving babysitters she was able to afford. Apparently, they lacked in the areas of close supervision of the crayons…

I remembered the little disasters my own two had created, back in the day. Because I could not watch them every second, either. And what one doesn’t think of; the other one will.

I bemused myself with thoughts of how things on this planet (and within my own heart) must look to God. Probably worse than what I had just seen with mortal eyes. Ruination, pollution, overflowing landfills. The grime and grease that our mistreatment of one another causes to gather on our souls. The lackluster attempts to clean up after ourselves. The cobwebs that grow between our attempts to cleanse our minds that gather filth so easily. The wild scribblings that appear on the souls of others we have defaced in one way or the other.

Funny, the lessons one can learn from a daunting and overwhelming job.

Life is hard and, yes, God is good. And always has a good “spin” on what we think we see and know.

Love, forgiveness, and maybe a little help to the overwhelmed of the world. They’re trying to make their way through the grit and grime that is so freely handed out in this life. God bless and bring sympathy to those who are struggling so mightily not to give up and sink into the depths of despair and hopelessness…and wondering if anyone sees past their dirty exterior.

Just like me.

Peace to you both, my little biological sister and my spiritual sister/single Mom.


~ by saginawrobin on February 11, 2013.

2 Responses to “Cleaning and Cleansing (and maybe some mild Cursing)!”

  1. I didn’t expect that great spin at the end! I feel like I know what to do when cleaning a neglected home (I’ve done it, too, and you must’ve been very sore and worn out afterward!), but when it comes to helping someone who wants out of the grimy consequences of filthy actions, I don’t always know where to begin. It’s such a relief to know that God knows what to do. 🙂

  2. What can I say, Rilla, except: Amen!

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