Been busy this week, catching up with the things I had to set aside to get the book draft for Haitian Vodou finished, getting some well-deserved sleep, and various errands around the building and the springtime. It’s been raining almost every day. This happens in this area; it’s something I’ve noted since I moved to Illinois when I was 17, that between seasons there’s almost a full week of rain before we get a new season, and this year is no exception, though the temperature has been weirder (much cooler except for two days of more than 90F) and the spring allergies are stronger.
Beyond being tired from all the blankets of pollen covering everything, I’m managing. Once the book went to the publisher, I started cleaning up after that process, boxing up the books and papers related to the research and writing, to be brought back downstairs and re-shelved in my library. Found some other papers related to some other projects I want to work on, projects about Egypt and other things. Returned phone calls about a TV documentary, an iPhone app project, and scheduling appointments for repairs and inspections of the building my temple is located in (and which permits me to rent a rectory apartment on the third floor).
Down the hall from the apartment, there’s a large communal bathroom for the guest rooms. When the building was still a convent, before we bought it in late 2003, there was simple black vinyl lettering attached to the wall above the sinks, spelling out in Spanish Dios es en la limpieza, or translated in my not-so-great Spanish, “God is in the clean.” I’d actually intended to leave the words there once we acquired the building – the sentiment is kind of awesome, in a Feng Shui way – but the sisters took the letters with them when they left. At certain times of day, when the sun is coming in the window next to the shower stalls just the right way, you can still make out the ghost of the words, echoed in the sunny yellow wall.
I’m seeking God this week, not just in the prayers I say and the offerings I leave every day, but in the act of cleaning. It reminds me of o-soji at the kenjutsu dojo I attended until my liver tumor voted me off the mat. O-soji, meaning “great cleaning,” is the literal and ritual cleaning of the dojo that we did at least once a month, taking everything apart and dusting and washing it, down to the bare walls. People in the dojo used to fight over who got to clean what things, and compete with each other to see who could get something the cleanest. The same sort of thing is done in the military, too, between cleaning weapons, cleaning and preparing one’s uniform, and cleaning the barracks/ship/transport/etc. At home, as a kid, Saturday morning was special, both because it was the time Mom would drag out the vinyl and let us listen to great music, and because it was the time when we’d clean house.
Things feel better when they’re clean. Many traditions and religions hold that evil spirits or negativity or confusion live in dirt and dust. In Haitian Vodou, every person, object, and location involved in a ceremony has to be absolutely clean before any work begins. Even Kemetic Orthodoxy is included in this; we believe in the purifications of body and place before ceremonies, and that the cleaner something is, the more likely it is to attract the attention and residence of positive spirits and good emotions. As it turns out, those nuns were on to something. God IS in the clean, and I’m off to find Him/Her/It/Them.