Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Basics: Sweeping the Front Porch, posted by Nancy L. Agneberg

I am not fond of vacuuming. To be honest, I hate  vacuuming, and lately, in anticipation of showings of our house, I have needed to vacuum frequently. Also, dust and keep surfaces clear of clutter and do laundry daily and, and, and ......  Along with meditating and writing in my journal, my current morning routine with its list of home tending tasks to complete often seems to extend into the afternoon.  I am more than willing to perform these tasks, for it is something I can do to welcome potential new owners to this home.
      Even if this house weren't for sale, however, I would still greet the freshness of the morning by sweeping the front porch, for there is something so basic, almost old-fashioned about sweeping, especially a front porch. 
     I imagine myself as a housewife of the 30's or 40's or even 50's, wearing a housedress and full apron, standing outside the front door with broom in hand. I survey this world in front of me and wonder who will come up the walk and cross this threshold today. Sweeping is convivial, for unlike washing windows, it is interruptible and encourages pausing for a casual conversation with the neighbor pushing a stroller or walking a dog. I listen to the birds chitter chattering, hoping for a piece of discarded thread or a fragment of lint for a nest in process.  I think ahead to the end of the day when my husband and I will have dinner on the porch, sharing our day's in's and out's and perhaps later will sit in quiet companionship reading until daylight disappears. 
     I remember the front porch on the house where we raised our children. That front porch had a swing.  The rhythm of the swing seemed to match the cadence of whatever I read to our young son.   Our daughter and her boyfriend, now husband, posed for prom pictures while sitting on that swing. This porch should have a swing and a young family, too. Maybe it will someday. 
     I begin to sweep and sense how the sweeping signals moving on, not clinging to anything, except the present moment. Sweeping clears the space.  Sweeping says, "This house is cared for." The Shakers believe that their daily work, even something as basic as sweeping the front porch, is a personal expression of worship. Gunilla Norris in her book of poetry, Being Home, says, "Prayer and housekeeping--they go together. They have always gone together. We simply know that our daily round is how we live. When we clean and order our homes, we are somehow also cleaning and ordering ourselves."
      In cleaning and ordering ourselves, we become more open to the extraordinary in the ordinary and the grace of everyday life.  Now, if I only felt this way about vacuuming!   

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