Cleaning Is Messy Work

The world is a mess right now, but I have a feeling a lot of houses and gardens have never been cleaner. Projects that were living on the “when we have time” list are getting done, now that our calendars are cleared. Gardens are being planted, storage is being organised, and fresh paint is going up on walls. It’s happening at our house, too, which is why I’ve broken out the work clothes. You know, the ones with the paint on them and the holes in the knees, the ones I don’t care what happens to them because they’re already a mess.

When I work hard at cleaning or improving things, I do what most people do: Wear the grubbiest clothes I have. That’s because cleaning is messy work, and if I do very much of it I need a change of clothes and a shower. Which reminds me of a character in G.K. Chesterton’s novel “Manalive” who says:

“Rum idea this is, that tidiness is a timid, quiet sort of thing; why, tidiness is a toil for giants. You can’t tidy anything without untidying yourself; just look at my trousers. Don’t you know that? Haven’t you ever had a spring cleaning?”

It’s true, isn’t it? It takes hands that are willing to get dirty to keep the garden tidy and get things to grow in it. It takes arms that are willing to work up a sweat to push back the constant encroachment of disorder and decay in the house.

And what’s true for houses and gardens is also true for the bigger mess all around us. 

Better keep the work clothes handy.

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