Sunday, 19 September 2021

Time for spiritual autumn clean

SEPTEMBER: the month when the spiders come inside to build their webs across windows and corners, dead leaves are trodden in from outside and suddenly the house needs more attention.

The trouble with housework, though, is that a couple of days after you have done it, it needs doing again.

There are three main approaches to housework: firstly, the quick whizz round approach; secondly, thorough cleaning of one room per week and a quick whizz round the rest; thirdly, the weekly thorough, top to bottom clean.

In the first one you do the minimum, just cleaning around things without moving them. This approach shouldn’t take long, but unfortunately it can be quite dissatisfying (I know, because I often use it), leaving a frill of dust clearly visible around each ornament and the floor a bit grubby at the edges.

The second approach is probably quite time-effective way. Each week you give one room a thorough clean, then the other rooms have a quick whizz and everything is, more or less, under control.

The third is probably only for those who employ someone else to do their cleaning but the results are marvellous.

There is a parallel with how we live our spiritual lives. Most religions grapple with how we can become the purest version possible of ourselves and this involves some sort of spiritual housework to clean away the things which we have done wrong and make our souls shine.

The three main approaches are the same: the quick whizz, only doing what is strictly necessary to salve the conscience; the partial thorough clean, perhaps devoting one day a week to spiritual matters or the religious life.

Then there is the top-to-toe, thorough clean, which is as hard to achieve in the spiritual life as it is in the domestic sphere.

In the spiritual life it is echoed in the fasting times which most religions practise. They are a time when we can renew our prayer life and look inward on our souls and try to shake off the preoccupations of daily life.

As the nights grow colder and we retreat into our homes once more, it may be a good opportunity for some spiritual housekeeping: fasting or setting time aside for prayer and meditation. It’s that or the vacuum cleaner.

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