i knew that before i could sink down roots, allow them to furrow deep into the soils of this new garden bed of a life, i’d need to spend some time with rake and hoe. maybe even a hefty shovel.
there was cleaning to be done. there were boxes to unpack.
and, oh my, my old garage of an office had sprouted a bumper crop of piles over the last many months, when stacking vertically seemed to be the handiest option after long days in the cubicle and riding home on the bumpy el.
it became one of those now-blurry weeks, fueled by more caffeine and fewer calories than would be smart, when one cobwebby corner led me to a motherlode of old, yellowed papers, and before i knew it, i was neck-deep in dust. i was sneezing. i was yanking off my fleece. i was stripped-down and pretty much a one-woman get-to-the-bottom-of-it machine.
on the surface, i was simply clearing out the clutter, sinking down the start of something new.
but along the way, i was sorting, grieving, remembering, rejoicing, all in one fell swoop.
when you are a treasure keeper, as i have always been, you find little bits of gold tucked in far back corners of a cabinet you’ve not peeked in for years and years and years.
you find notes and emails decades old. you read words of moments you’d long forgotten. but the ink on the page brings it all rushing back. you remember little girls and little boys you have loved. you remember writing your beloved, back before you wore his wedding ring.
you stumble into stories from the news pages. you remember what happened because of those words. you hold the papers close to your chest. you whisper benedictions, blessing the moments that add up to a life, to your life’s work.
you marvel at what’s passed by your lookout tower. you count the lucky stars in your sky. you feel the bottom go out at the pit of your belly, as you wonder what comes next. as you ask, will it ever be so good again?
you are alone, for hours at a time, just you and all that dust. just you and crumbled bits of papers, the few traces of the places you have been, the loves you have known.
you are, to the world outside your office door, sure making quite a racket in there. you sure seem to be determined in your cleaning.
but really what you are doing is sifting, sorting, assembling. you are finding your way through the woods. you are starting over once again. you are paring down what matters after all. you are crumpling up remnants of the past, pieces you no longer need to hold, to keep.
you know now what belongs. what needs to be saved. what will carry you forward, propel you.
every once in a not-so-often while, you catch a whiff of pure fresh air. you think, i can do this. this is good.
you look up, bleary-eyed, from the latest drawer you’ve found to sort, to stack, to straighten. you notice snow flakes falling. you catch a cardinal flitting by. you feel a stirring deep inside, a scritch-scratch from heaven’s door, telling you this is right where you belong.
you’ve moved back to where the sun streams in. to where the only sound is the simmer on the stove, or the tick and tock of your grandma’s clock.
you make your old pine table clean again. you vacuum dust from the butter-yellow braided rug. you dab dots of paint onto a picture frame, so your boys, your muse, can smile at you from over the top of the computer screen. you pad your nest, indeed. you are not unlike mama bird in april, when she tirelessly spends her days flitting back and forth with bits of twig and snips of yarn, padding the place where birth will come. where eggs will be laid, will hatch, will squawk, will be fed, will fly.
it’s what we do, some of us, before the flying comes.
we clear out what had gotten in the way, what had piled up, collected dust. we run our fingers over pages long forgotten, now refreshed. we remember where we’ve been and how deeply we have filled our lungs.
we exhaust ourselves with all our clearing, cleaning. we work till too, too late. because this is not about just dust and papers. this is about getting to the bottom of our soul, so we can drink in what we need, that pure fresh air, the oxygen of life, of faith.
first up, we file and file and file some more. then, we take a breath. and see if we can fly.
so went the second full week of what i now think of as BAM inc. an exhausting week to be sure, but in the end a week that will propel me. i now sit in the tidiest office that ever was. i have tossed out every last distraction, and ordered and labeled what’s left. are you, like me, inclined to clear the decks before leaping into a significant undertaking, or are you more inclined to wing it, and let it rip, piles and all propelling you?