“Cleaning is praying. Praying is cleaning.”
– The Forty Rules of Love, Elif Shafak
The feeling of being in a totally clean place is so peaceful and freeing, there is nothing between us and God—it’s a sort of heaven on earth. When things are messy and dirty, we feel a heaviness that feels like depression, and like we are in a hole we can’t get out of…kind of like hell on earth. Most women, and a few good men, know that keeping something clean is temporary at best. The perfectly cleaned kitchen is marred by the first meal. A lovely cleaned living room is, for some reason, a favorite place for pets to vomit (don’t get me started about the white chair in my office!!) So cleanliness is never permanent; it’s a process…and the process of cleaning is, a lot like praying.
Which doesn’t mean we like it! We get very frustrated when people around me don’t pick up after themselves, or have the same standards of cleanliness as we do. We might be one of those people who notices when things aren’t organized and in the right place. And in the process of cleaning, and cleaning out, we face all my own faults and weaknesses. We buy too many tablets and never use them. We buy too much food and don’t eat it. We buy too many toys and cheap crap for the kids, and then don’t make them pick them up. And there is always too much damn plastic in the house! But the closer we get to a clean and organized space, and the more we unload my junk, the happier and lighter we feel.
When a place is finally clean, it’s easier to realize that we actually need very little to be happy, and the less we have, the easier it is to keep it clean and organized. Praying is like that, too—it’s an unloading of fears, thoughts, and wishes that can weigh us down. So when we ask our God or Goddess or the Universe for help, we are letting go of things and messes that are holding us back from feeling closer to our chosen deity.
But just like cleaning and praying (and weeding, for that matter), it’s really about paying close attention to the small things in life. We are not rushing and running and looking at the big picture, we are focusing in on the details, and sorting through the tiny bits and pieces that we want to either “keep or get rid of.” We are taking action to make the world better—whether it’s our own homes, our natural outdoor areas, or a village in a place that needs our help. Cleaning or praying is taking action and responsibility to improve ourselves and our world, to get closer to that feeling of spiritual bliss we all crave. We may do it for ourselves and for our own satisfaction, but the fact is it helps others, too—whether it’s the enjoyment they, too, feel in our clean space or the fact that our cast-offs are others’ treasures.