The Undeniable Power of Soul-Cleansing Work
We spent the whole day Sunday shucking, blanching and bagging sweet corn from my in-laws’ farm. We freeze enough for our family to enjoy year-round, and although I appreciate having a limitless (and free) supply of sweet corn, the mess we create in my kitchen almost isn’t worth the reward.
By the end of the day my kitchen floor is so sticky and gross. At least now I’m prepared for it. I still remember the first year when I thought a quick pass with my steam mop would take care of it.
Not so much.
I always end up on my hands and knees with a sponge and a bucket, scrubbing each tile and scraping flattened kernels with my fingernails. When I get that close to the ground I can see things I normally wouldn’t notice, and I end up scraping a lot more than corn off the floor. While I’m at it, I scrub the grout between the tiles and clean along the bottom edges of my appliances. It normally takes me five minutes to mop my kitchen floor, but on this day each year it takes over an hour.
When I’m done I always stand back and admire my work. It’s the cleanest my floor looks all year. After so many years of this routine, I’ve grown thankful for the mess that brings me to my knees once in a while. Without it, I might never pause long enough to give my floor such intentional care.
Every year when I do this, I remember that my soul works much the same way. If I don’t take the time once in a while to get on my knees and tend to my deepest needs, life will bring me there eventually through some big mess. We can only neglect the soul for so long without consequences.
Sometimes those consequences don’t show up until much later, making it hard to make the connection between a current problem and a suffocating soul. My consequences have shown up as anything from strains on my relationships to general irritability to potentially serious health problems.
As a naturally high-stress person, I live a life of self-neglect. I don’t do it on purpose, but I often feel like I can’t relax or sleep until everything is done. Even when it appears that I am off the clock, the part of my mind that plans every minute of every day continues running in circles.
It’s exhausting, yet I keep doing it lest I fall behind the curve. I’m a wife, mom, and business owner. All three of those roles are equally important to me, but giving everything my all comes at a price. Over time, all of that pushing and striving clouds my mind and stifles my soul.
Despite my tendency for self-neglect, I try to remember that soul-cleansing work is an important part of a productive life. When I take the time to get on my knees (sometimes literally) through practices such as yoga, meditation or solitude, all the baggage is scraped away and my soul finds space to breathe. If I commit to doing those things regularly, then I just might be able to prevent those big messes, or at least have my sponge ready and waiting when they appear — because some messes can’t be predicted or prevented.
Now for the next full year, I can pull a bag of sweet corn from the freezer any time, dump it in a pot and turn on the heat, with the hard work done and the mess long behind me. As the ice melts and the water boils, I might be tempted to think that I sure have it easy. But I know that’s not true. It only appears easy to anyone who doesn’t know there was a hard part. It only appears easy to those who don’t understand the rejuvenating power of the moments we spend on our knees.