Today is housecleaning day. I am about to blog on putting my house in order. Why do I do this? Initially, it was to make the mundane stuff of my life sound interesting. But YUUUUKKKKKK! Why would you give one whit about whether or not I am going to clean my house today, or any day for that matter? Well, because housecleaning and putting things in order is a holy endeavor and therefore worth noting. No kidding.
I’ve been reading a book, Everyday Holiness, by Alan Morinis, that is changing my view on a lot of things, including housecleaning. It seems that orderliness is one of many personal character traits we should cultivate for spiritual growth. Simple enough. When I think of character traits, however, I automatically think of “the usual suspects” such as patience, generosity, kindness, and perseverance. I never thought of “order” as a positive character trait imbued with spiritual meaning. In my world, some people are orderly, some not. No big deal.
Why is order so important? What does order have to do with spirituality? And where does housework fit into developing positive character traits?
Right off the cuff, order is important because life is easier and less stressful when we know where things are. I have a place where I leave my keys every time I walk in the door. Why? Because I mislaid my keys too often, and then I spent too much time hunting for them when I needed to go somewhere. So, I created a “key” place and I always (99% of the time) place my keys in that spot. Less stressful. Simple example, but it certainly illustrates the point.
Another reason that order is important is because it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, which then creates a higher level of serenity. Think about it. Walking into a room that is orderly, with everything in its proper place, is far more calming than walking into a chaotic mess. Life generally functions better when things are in order and in sequence, which then creates more control in our lives..
There is a spiritual aspect to orderliness, too, that is not so often highlighted. Reading Everyday Holiness, I came across the phrase, “the path to spiritual growth…is hidden right in front of us, right there within the ways of this world.” The words seemed to jump off the page. Like a bolt of lightning, it occurred to me that leading a meaningful spiritual life is not something one does “out there.“ It is not even a “thing” that we attain, or acquire. Rather, a meaningful spiritual life is created in the midst of our everyday living. Living spiritually is grounded, it’s earthy. Spirituality permeates our days in all that we think, say, and do.
Morinis goes on to say that the order we create “on our desk, in our car, with our clothes, our finances, our tools, in our kitchen, etc. is not just good management, it is bona fide spiritual work.” Order in our mundane, everyday lives reflects the level of order in our inner, spiritual lives. Outward chaos equals inner chaos. Outward order equals inner order. Order brings peace of mind and spirit. Of course, how we define order will vary person to person. A young mother with children underfoot will not have the same order in her life that a middle-aged “empty nester” will have in his or hers.
This brings me to a note of caution: as with anything, balance is key. Orderliness is important to me because it is one trait that is a bit lacking in my life, especially when it comes to my house. I am aware that I can attain a higher level of order at my present age than I could when I was raising children. It‘s all relative (my apologies to all you physics purists out there.) On the other hand, an overabundance of this trait can lead to rigidity, or becoming a control freak. I will be the first to say that ideally the goal is to find that balance between the extremes.
What a lesson for me! Since reading Morinis, I’ve been motivated to do those things that in the past I’ve avoided as much as possible. If you, like me, think of “holiness” as soft light, ethereal music, and lofty thoughts floating through one’s mind, here’s a clue: we have got it all wrong. More than navel gazing, hushed toned voices, living in an irritant-free world, holiness is in part found in making order out of our chaos. So, today when I finish this blog, I plan to do some holy work and establish some order in this house!
So, what do you think? This is definitely a work in progress. How would you define order? spirituality? In what ways do you agree or disagree with this blog in regard to order and holiness?
I look forward to your comments.