We moved our family north a couple of states two weeks ago, a grand move. I’m pleased to say that most of the boxes are unpacked and arranged. At one point last week I bellowed aloud from the kitchen, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul!” I felt so good about the state of things in the house.
That pile of papers on my desk got bigger while I was out of town this weekend. The to do list in my head grew by leaps and bounds. The constant barrage of questions beginning with “Mom, when are you going to….” shows no signs of ebbing. Egad. Life is full and fast paced. It’s easy to feel as though I’m constantly losing ground.
Having just been to Nashville to clean our big empty city house threw me into an odd state of mind, I have to say.
And now, my daily tangent…but not really…
It’s strange to clean an empty house. It’s stranger when the house is your own and will continue to be your own at least as far as the bank is concerned.
We’d had the house exterior painted while we were in Chicago. This was the first time I saw the finished product. It looks beautiful. I didn’t think to take a photo and I regret that now. There was nothing in the house. Not a stick of furniture or a scrap of paper. We did a fairly good job emptying it a few weeks ago. I spoke aloud when I walked in.
“Hello, house. Lonely?”
I spoke aloud most of the day while I cleaned because I do that…when I clean, when I cook, when I drive. I’m glad to report that the inanimate objects closest don’t reply. It’s probably the need to think and connect and keep myself engaged. It might be that I just like to hear myself talk. I’m not ruling that out.
It took about 4 hours which surprised me. We’d only been there a year. The place was empty…but maybe it was because it was empty that it took so long. There was nothing to take up space, nothing to work around. It was a wide open canvas ready and waiting. Maybe that’s why I talked to the house. Maybe it really did feel lonely…or expectant…nervous…waiting for the next big event in its timeline- the arrival of people and animals and furniture to fill it up again.
And so I took great care, I really did. I cleaned every corner, every windowsill, every countertop. I washed it down and dried it off. I prayed through each room. I gave thanks with each toilet seat wiped down.
It was sacramental.
It was holy.
Gaining ground instead of losing it…I was reclaiming something and giving it away to someone else.
And so we return to Chicago- I unpack the car and see the many piles, the many bags, the many needs of the children and the responsibilities and the replies requested…life didn’t stop while we were gone, we weren’t greeted with empty space anymore. The effort I took to fill the space those two weeks after moving showed and then I was thankful for that too because it was grounding to see the life we’re building. Perhaps there is no lost ground, after all.