Monday, February 6, 2012

Flexible Intentions

     My intention today was to clean the house. The entire house. Top to bottom. I intended to clean, not because Monday is cleaning day, but because the house needs to be cleaned. Unlike my mother, I don't have a regular cleaning day. Mom cleaned on Thursdays, and I must admit I sometimes dreaded coming home from school on Thursdays, knowing she had been working hard and would be tired and who knows what I would track in or mess up. Nope, no regular cleaning day for me. I clean when the house demands it, and the schedule allows it. Today is the day, I announced to myself, for the winter sun is shining unrelentingly on thick dust, and too many nights of having supper in the den has taken its toll. Fortunately, I generally enjoy cleaning.  
     So how has the day proceeded?  Well, first I decided to go downstairs and do my morning emails and then I wrapped the Valentine presents that should go in the mail tomorrow, and as long as I was in the wrapping mode, I might as well wrap our grandson's birthday presents. Then I put away the stack of books on my desk that looked like a library's RETURN HERE section, leading me to do a general reshuffling of my bookshelves.  One thing led to another. Eventually, I told myself I would clean the lower level first and then head upstairs by noon.
     It is now nearly 4:00 and here I still am in my office on the lower level. I have dusted, and I have vacuumed, but the first and second floors remain untouched. I haven't even taken a shower yet today, but am still wearing my morning exercise clothes, and my hair needs washing.  Please, no one ring the doorbell this afternoon! And I have no idea what we are going to have for dinner because I have yet to go to the grocery store. 
     That's the thing about intentions. Sometime they aren't the real thing. Sometimes they are meant to be changed. Sometimes it is important to be flexible. I recently read a book called Aging as a Spiritual Practice, A Contemplative Guide to Growing Older and Wiser by Lewis Richmond in which he writes about the importance of being flexible and not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. "Rigidity reduces pleasure and possibility in our life and closes doors that need to remain open for aging to blossom." I decided to blossom today!  I decided to listen to what I really wanted and needed to do today, and I have followed those whispers one after the other.  
     I emptied my bulletin board of the happy accumulation from 2011 and made my year-end collage with those items. The nearly empty board now awaits this year's cards and pictures and Chinese fortunes and who knows what else will be welcomed there. I went through a small pile of notes and discarded or redirected. I found a stash of cards that have been sent to me over the years, including one from my mother written in 2001 and for a moment I sat quietly and enjoyed her presence. I did quite a bit of this and that, but not what I intended to do. Oh well. Some intentions are looser than others.
     One of my daily intentions is to practice centering prayer, and before I fixed myself lunch I sat in the living room in the quiet and rested in Spirit's presence. Later on today I will keep another of my daily intentions: I will write today's letter and even though I don't yet know who will be the recipient, I trust I will know when it is time to write.  Those intentions carry more weight than the intention to clean today. However, my intention tomorrow is TO CLEAN! 


  1. I love the layering of intention and cleaning, how an intention - when flexible and not rigid - can flower into other forms, in this case, of cleaning, which are equally as important. And somehow more powerful when transmuted from another direction.

    1. Thanks Miriam. I am becoming so aware as I explore the notion of intentions how layered they are.


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