Friday, September 17, 2010
No, really. Scrubbed and Scoured it. With a proper scrub brush. Hot soapy water. On my hands and knees like a regular scullery maid right out of one of Jane Austin's books.
I gotta tell ya. It's part of how I'm getting my groove back.
There's something about paying attention to corners and crevices and not just the big picture - which is what I'm more used to - that changes you a bit.
Something about watching the rhythm of your body in the repetitive motion of back and forth and forth and back, putting your shoulder into the effort occasionally, that releases something other than just sweat and body odor.
Something more about finishing a task, taking a few steps back and looking at the hard work you've done as you slowly realize that you're smiling back at a house that's beginning to acquire the shine of home.
There's something about the absolute freedom of these days that is positively exhilarating and yet cautionary.
The house is situated in such a way that, if I've just gotten out of the shower and discovered that I Really Need something in the laundry room, I can walk naked through the bedroom, living room, kitchen and into the laundry room without the care or concern of scandalizing (or horrifying) someone who might be "just passing by".
And yet, there is an order and a rhythm to the day that gives me pause in the fluidity of its structure. My day seems framed by the tides. I eagerly watch and wait to see the way it goes out and leaves parts of the marsh outside my window naked and bare. Then, I watch the way it comes in again, slowly and steadily filling the waters to overflowing, lapping and slapping the decking on a windy day.
I'm always amazed at how closely the tides conform to the predictions I find on the Weather Channel - which I watch with much more frequency here than I ever did in the Northeast Corridor. When you live by the water, you understand the wisdom in the adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
The gulls come in the early morning, looking for crusts of bread thrown out onto the water. I thought this morning of Ecclesiastes 1:11: "Cast thy bread upon the surface of the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days."
Some of my Jewish friends - who just celebrated Rosh Hashanah in which casting bread upon the water is part of the ritual - tell me that this is more than just symbolically casting one's sins into the water before the judgment comes. It is also, I am told, a biblical call to generosity - not because you expect a reward, but because you feel it is right. It is grounded in the belief that good deeds will also benefit those who do them.
It has become part of my morning ritual - to say my prayers and then cast some crusts of bread upon the water during the confession of sins, simultaneously repenting while trying to be generous in feeding the gulls.
It's a lovely ritual, actually. One that calls me to the challenge of tshuvah - literally, 'return' or what we know as 'metanoia' or repentance - as well as generosity. One that feeds and nourishes my soul as well as a few of God's creatures.
And that's part of how I'm getting my grove back after the transition - with its bittersweet combination of sadness and sorrow, anticipation and excitement - of leave-taking and moving and settling into a new home.
It's about simple accomplishments that bring simple pleasures which leads to paying attention to other simple things: The rhythm of the day. The beauty of nature.
It's about the exhilaration and responsibility of freedom.
It's about ritual and rhythm. Hard work and sweat. Repentance and generosity.
I thought I was transforming the house from a vacation/retreat place to a proper year round home.
Turns out, I'm the one who's being transformed.
And it is good. It is very good.