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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How Praying the Office Makes My House Pretty

Some people do Fly Lady with great results. Some people are just naturally neat and organized. I pray the office. And you should see what it's done to my home.

As a Carmelite Secular, I'm supposed to pray the office, but I've never been as good at it as I should be. But lately I've really been making more of an effort to improve, partly because final promises are approaching and I realize that I can't very well promise obedience if I'm not even doing this little thing as well as I'm able. So recently I put the breviary next to my bed and set about working on consistency.

Then the most surprising thing happened. My living room got cleaned. I mean clean enough to have company for my son's birthday. Grown up company. My mother in law. It was a shock.

Then a few days later, something else happened. The little concrete patio outside my front door started shaping up. This is no small feat, I might add. I started trimming the dread Juniper Bush from Heck. The thing was at least thirteen feet high and proportionately out of control. Thick branches, too big for our dull little saw. My son saw me, and came out to help. So while he lopped twigs and then branches (our ultimate goal is to destroy the fiend), I scooped, shoveled and swept the pile of maple leaves and juniper droppings beneath it, putting them into the mulch pile in the planter bed we're trying to fill. Then my daughter saw us and joined in, too. She cleaned the trash and fishing supplies that had collected all around the hose.

For the first time in I don't know how long, the front of our house is starting not to look junky. By the time the weather warms enough to plant flowers around the patio, it might even be downright pretty.

By now you are asking what on earth praying the Liturgy of the Hours has to do with cleaning the patio. I'll tell you. As I prayed, something happened inside me that really shouldn't have come as so much of a surprise: I began to feel grateful. I became much more acutely aware of the gifts God has given me, and how blessed I am. I found myself feeling the familiar, overwhelming gratitude that God has matched me up with a man I'm convinced must be among his very favorites. I found myself remembering that five years ago I was certain I could never own a home, and ten years ago I didn't even have a home to live in. And I knew I must never, ever take these gifts for granted.

In a sense, when I've let mess overtake us, that is exactly what I've been doing. And lately I'm feeling an enormous sense of gratitude... and drive to show my gratitude by taking care of the gifts my Papa has given me.

I won't knock Fly Lady; she's done a lot of good for a lot of people. But for now, I'll take the Office. Blessed be the Lord!