Jeans into dryer. Towels in to washer. Head upstairs and try to ignore the kitchen. Weave my way through various items of ski clothing and leftover Christmas boxes. Pair of jammies on the stairs. Move aside vacuum cleaner and deposit Ash’s clean clothes onto the dresser next to his new potty. Move bag of outgrown clothes to the banister. Put away towels, but first rearrange the closet so that they’ll fit somewhere on the shelves. Discover overturned sippy cup leaking all over clean clothes and Scott’s new magazine on the bed. Hastily put away clothes. Hang magazine over bed rail to dry. Strip sheets. Deposit pile on the landing with other various dirty items collected along the way.
Then go and sit on the stripped bed and close the door. Close the door to the bathroom too--no one wants to see that. But open the door to the closet. Admire the neat rows of hung up clothing. Shirts, sweaters, jackets. The perfectly aligned piles of jeans and sweaters and the containers of socks and belts and scarves and bags all in their own place. It’s a small comfort, but it helps. One room--or one space rather--in this house is tidy. One. But it’s a start, and it does help.
It’s a combo this time. A mixing together of ‘it’s been Christmas vacation and I couldn’t be bothered’ and ‘I just don’t have the capacity to do anything much about it.’ Thankfully it leans more to the Christmas vacation reasoning, but it’s been very much on the other side of things for months if I’m being honest.
My friend Susan talks a lot about our spiritual house. That our hearts and spirits are like houses. Full of rooms. Some comfortable and open and well-used. Some full of old baggage. Some kept shiny-clean for guests. Others kept dark and locked away.
My physical house is a good representation of my spiritual one. Every single room in disarray, but an underlying desire for tidiness and even a brave start on the process. Even if it’s only one relatively little space.
Guilt creeps in. What right do I have to feel so lost and forlorn? To have a spirit in such disarray? I have not lost a husband--as two close friends of mine have. My children are all relatively healthy--unlike another very close friend. I’m not starving or homeless. I have so very much to be thankful for. I try to remind myself with deep breaths and brave encouragement that their stories are not my story. Their nightmares are not my nightmares. Those are not my dragons to fight. I have my own dragons, and they are formidable to me in this moment in this place.
Some of the pain is old. Years-ago stuff laying strewn about in my spirit-rooms with fairly newish items. Some of it simply needing to be sorted and put in its proper place. Other needing to be purged and the area it was left in given a good cleaning and refurbishment.
Much of it is actually from just this year. I have put on such a brave face and tried so hard to be cheerful and flexible, but I grow weary of limbo and confused about my place in the world.
My reflections turn to a wise friend’s recent suggestion that the thing about houses is you’ve got to have neighbors to help you sort things out when they get chaotic and in disarray. I pause to consider this. Can I look beyond the lonely? I can. I locate a very genuine ‘thankful’ for neighbors today. The expected and the unexpected ones. The ones who come out of the woodwork when you’re not really looking. The ones who are always there. The ones that are developing into good friendships.
So. Here I go. Off to sort things. In both houses. They both really need it. Perhaps I’ll even call a neighbor or two...