In our home, Saturdays can be either really crazy,
or really lazy…
and it all depends on what commitments or activities the kids have on their schedules!
This past Saturday we had one of those RARE Saturdays where NO ONE had a scheduled activity so I decided it would be a great day to stay home, clean up and organize our overly cluttered bedrooms, and do some touch painting around the house. As could have been expected, my carefully laid plans to complete these long overdue tasks were to be thwarted in some way;
- each one of my kids decided that they wanted to get together with friends, requiring parents to drive to & fro (a real time guzzler)
- a crazy ice/snow storm had swept through Texas so NOT ONE errand had gotten done during the week- no groceries, gas, car registration & paint supplies
- and on very short notice, we were informed that it was our week to help clean our church building
Now I don’t know how you approach big household tasks like painting or spring cleaning– these are the kinds of things you don’t do for a few minutes, take a break to go shopping and come back again. For me, these are the get in, put your head down and GET IT DONE type of chores that require FULL day commitments. I really do not enjoy paint prep or clean up so I definitely try to minimize how often I get the paint mess out. Because of this, I was feeling quite a bit frustrated on Friday night when I watched my big chunk of Saturday begin to be chiseled away. In an effort to maintain peace in my heart, I determined that I would postpone all of my grand plans for cleaning the house EXCEPT for the paint…
FRESH PAINT OR BUST was my mantra as I went to bed Friday night.
The first task of Saturday morning was to meet our assignment to clean up at the church. I volunteered to clean and vacuum the chapel- the idea of being isolated in this beautiful room with the soothing hum of the vacuums appealed to my overwhelmed and frustrated mind…
As I had hoped, my mind wandered to a place of introspection and fresh perspective.
I was brought to a memory of a beautiful opportunity I had to clean one of my church’s temples. Our temples are beautiful, unique, and especially sacred to the members of my church. I am always grateful and humbled to be in any temple, so the opportunity to help clean the Dallas Temple was one I quickly accepted.
In keeping with the sacredness of the building, we were dressed in white work attire that had been given us for the day. The temple is closed for cleaning once every six months (I think) for approximately two weeks and teams of volunteers fill 4 hour shifts in an effort to clean every speck of dirt and mend every flaw! No one had their phones, tablets, or music– we worked side by side in whispered voices. I was assigned the task of cleaning the largest chandelier, which turned out to be a huge task; every light bulb is changed (more than 1000); every crystal in every light is carefully and painstakingly removed, cleaned and rehung. I dare say that not a single corner, crack, or crevice goes unnoticed in the careful attention to detail given to cleaning these beautiful buildings.
I compared the minute level of detail involved in cleaning the temple to the task I was currently working on- cleaning our church building. We still had a team of volunteers, but we were assigned as families so we had children working side by side with parents. As one can probably imagine, the tasks assigned to the younger kiddos were much easier and there was a lot of parental help. We came in our work clothes, teenagers were plugged into their music devices and many stopped to check their phones or chat with one another; laughter and silly filled the halls as children made games of working on a Saturday morning. Though our intention was to clean, our tasks were the surface tasks that would make the building presentable and clean for Sunday’s services, but could in NO way be considered DEEP cleaning!
Late that evening, as I looked at my pile of painters plastic, paint brushes and empty paint cans; I reflected once again. This time comparing the temple, the church and then my own home. On this particular Saturday, my kids had quickly abandoned their Saturday chores (feeling that cleaning the church counted as their work for the day) for fun with friends; I had traded my own tasks and responsibilities to painting scuffed up and scratched walls and my husband had gotten distracted with his own overly busy mind and “to do” list! Children had come in and out all day, meals had been prepared but not cleaned up, and the messes from the week seemed to multiply; my house reflected the crazy and overwhelmed nature of my mind and heart!
I did something I RARELY do; I left the plastic, paint brushes and paint cans right where they were!! As a matter of fact, I left everything right where it was- every scrap of paper, every speck of dust, every dirty item of clothing got left RIGHT where it was and I went upstairs to watch a movie with my family! This was not to be a day of deep cleaning, order, or even surface cleaning for my home. This was a day of bare necessities and leaving the doors closed to guests (and myself) until I could get back to finish the job and put my spaces back in order.
As I woke early on Sunday morning, I spent some much needed quiet time in humble analysis of the value of the current moment and the importance of a divine vision (both of which I have lost sight of). I thought of the three, very different, cleaning situations.
One situation was completed with complete diligence and order- with attention to detail in every corner and crevice- but a task that could NOT be done alone…
One cleaning situation that could easily have been done alone but was made much easier (and completed quicker) with a group of friends, where laughter and silly was as much a part of the day as cleaning the surfaces that will be seen by those who in for a moment or two…
And finally, a task that was just too big for the time allotted that day. A task that was abandoned by all of the supporting staff and was too overwhelming for the ONE!
I couldn’t help comparing this to our own personal preparation in life. We can spend a lot of time trying to force certain things into our lives. We can plan and prepare ahead of time, dedicate A LOT of time, commitment and effort to our personal ‘cleansing’, asking for some help and guidance along the way…
We can hobble along, biting off more than we can reasonably chew and try to do it all ourselves…
Like cleaning the temple, deep and formal cleaning doesn’t have to happen daily, but it should happen often! Like the church building, adding a few friends, some laughter and a little reduced expectation will often get menial tasks done in a fun and feasible manner.
And like my house, we will have some days where the best we can do is close all the doors and take a break with the people (or places) we love the most; knowing that the mess that is stressing us out will still be there tomorrow, but won’t feel so overwhelming.