We just took two weeks off homeschool so I could deep-clean. Audrey read, played Spanish games, and practiced for a play she is participating in, all things which required minimal input from me. Instead, I cleaned, decluttered, and organized the house from top to bottom.
Most people associate deep-cleaning with the spring-time, but I love to deep-clean in the fall. Mind you, I haven’t done much deep-cleaning for the past several years of having babies under the age of two, but when I do deep-clean, it happens in the fall. Something about the onset of cooler weather inspires me to “set things in order” for the winter. Energized by the long-awaited relief from the heat, I open all the windows, throw on a tank-top and shorts, turn my music up, and get to work. The crisp, refreshing air whisks through the windows and joins with the healing tones of worship music to cleanse every inch of my home.
“…Let us throw off everything that hinders…”
This verse played in the back of my mind as I went through every closet, cupboard, and drawer this year, deciding what to keep or get rid of. I have minimalistic tendancies and feel lighter when I have less stuff tying me down. Maybe it’s because I’ve moved eight times in nine years, or because I’ve been on the receiving end of enormous generosity, which has both anchored and freed me. Most likely it’s because of similar and radical “house-cleaning” that has occured in my mind over the past couple of years. I try to order my surroundings in a way that portrays the lightness I feel inside so that others can experience it too.
This year I began with my prayer room, which is a little storage closet off of our living room and under our stairs, right in the middle of our home. I told Audrey, who was eager to assist me in my undertaking, that if we set the heart of our home right first, the rest of the house would follow.
Once my prayer room is in order, I sense that the heavy lifting for the whole house is done, because the tone – the energy – has been set. I have worship music playing on my tablet in my prayer room, twinkle lights draped along the walls, and glitter frames painted by little hands sparkling in front of the lights. There is a big whiteboard on the wall for writing thoughts or prayers, a small keyboard for the kids to play, and drawers full of journals and pens. I encourage the kids to use the prayer room to play music, talk to Jesus, or to simply enjoy a quiet moment.
Last year when this small space was set aside for connection with the divine, the whole atmosphere of our home shifted, as if it had been cleansed and brought into harmony with a higher vibration. I sensed this strongly on an immaterial, spiritual level. A loving, holy, clean, light and uplifting energy radiates from the prayer room and permeates the rest of the home, reinforcing the same energy that dwells in our hearts, supporting loving thoughts and responses. And while I know that God dwells most fully in the hearts of people, I also believe that God still makes himself present, in some inexplicable way, in physical places where he is called upon.
There is something awe-inspiring and mysterious about that little room, something that makes my skin tingle (in a very good way) when I enter in stillness and awareness. Something that makes me want to laugh and cry tears of joy and bow in reverance all at the same time. Sort of like the feeling I had at the alter of my church when I sensed a bright light and was healed of IBS. Or the feeling I get when I walk outside late at night into a stillness more alive than the wildest storm. A presence, thunderous in its silence resounds, “I AM here.”
This is the Presence that I want, more than anything else in the world, to fill my home, just as with the passing years it increasingly fills my heart.
I want it to change all who enter; I want it to spill out the windows and touch the homes around me and the people walking by.
I want my home to be a place of peace and rest, of unconditional love and healing, a place where doors and hearts are open and brilliance floods out into the night.
My attempts to clean and organize my home are a recent expression of this desire, one which three babies and my own messy tendencies have most often overridden. I didn’t used to care if my house was clean, let alone have the skill or motivation to keep it so. But now I embrace the task, even though some days I still feel overwhelmed by it. God has spoken to me loudly through the mess, using it as a tool for growth. And rearranging the mess of my home into something beautiful, something that portrays freedom, belonging, and wholeness, is only a mirror of the transformation that is happening within.
It’s what’s been given to me to do, so I am thankful. Thankful for a space to call home, where we can laugh and cry, make messes and clean them up, and love each other through and because of it all. I’m thankful for family to fill these four walls, and for friends and neighbors to invite in. I’m thankful that a power much greater than I overwhelms my efforts, renewing, breathing life, imbuing mundane tasks with meaning and messy moments with growth. I am thankful for the transforming of chaos into order, hurt into healing, striving into rest.