Gran's Apple Butter Blog

February 7, 2012

Going Home, Excerpt: On The Inside (8VII)

Chapter 8 ~ On The Inside

Of course, Gran’s home was close to spotless – she didn’t keep any dust bunnies around. Gran was the only person I knew who vacuumed every day of the week except Sundays, then walked around picking up specks of link no one else could see. She had grandma eyes. You know – ones that can spot a dirty fingernail a mile away. That comes in handy with dust bunnies.

Gran was smart enough to see her own weakness. She knew keeping her house so clean qualified as a rather large Glaring Error in her quest to step away from perfectionitis. She never encouraged me to sweep my house every day, and I think she was secretly proud that her daughter rebelled against this practice.

In spite of that personal weak spot, or perhaps because of it, Gran had a theory about immaculate houses. She felt pretty sure it simply wasn’t possible to keep a squeaky clean house in this ol’ world and be truly happy and healthy inside it. She’d come to realize that her extreme cleanliness, rather than being a straight shot on up to godliness, was actually more of a cover-up for things she couldn’t hide or hadn’t been ready to change – things she’d had to come to terms with.

True, her house was beautiful – it looked lovely. She was always ready for company, but that made it challenging to spend time indoors. Maybe that’s why we sat on the porch so much. You didn’t want to walk away from your book or plate or knitting or whatever else you might be doing – when you came back, it’d be gone.

After some digging Gran began to see what that house represented to her, and why she was keeping it so carefully, hoping to distract others – especially herself – from what was going on inside. For a long time, she’d thought that if she could keep the outside surfaces spotless, that might make the inside spotless too. Then one day she was reading about the pots of the Pharisees, how they were pretty on the outside in a way that only covered up the darkness within, [i] and it hit her that this sounded a lot like her own home.

It must have hit pretty hard, ‘cause for years to come, Gran’s house was never the same. It looked like a construction zone, and no frilly dust cover was big enough to hide that. She went to work on that house in a very different way, and the end result was a sight to behold, inside and out, the parts you could see and the ones you could only feel. A lot changed. Some of the changes were hard to live through, but she said it was totally worth it, and she only wished she’d started the whole process sooner.

She learned something from all this that she tried hard to teach me. Sometimes we look at others and compare our lives to theirs. We get to feeling sorry for ourselves, complaining that life is so hard, and why this and why that and “it’s not fair.” We look at our neighbor’s big house and perfect family and get a little green twinge inside, thinking, why can’t my life be like that? When this happens, Gran said, it would serve us well to remember her story, or even Tina and Stan’s – the homeless rich girl and the bridge-dwelling king.

Not being one to learn by example, I later found out for myself how right Gran was. The way things appear on the outside may be very different from how they are on the inside, and only those on the inside know what’s really going on. Sometimes the prettiest appearances are just facades, set on display for the world to see. We paint our own walls and don’t even realize we’re doing it.

It takes time – sometimes a long time – to ever see this. At least it did for me. In the process I learned not to look at others and wish my feet were in their shoes. I began to look with my heart as well as my eyes, which made all the difference in the world.

One thing about it, I’ve learned to look past a little dust in my house – the brick-and-mortar one, anyway. Who has time for it? Let’s keep things neat, and relatively clean, but hey – that dust is gonna be back in two or three days, tops. And I’m pretty sure I have more important things to do on the inside of these walls. Those few little dust bunnies lying around, they’ll be ok. I’ll take care of them before they get out of hand.

But for now, I’ll just give ‘em names and make sure they don’t go hungry, and we’ll be pals for a while. And I’m pretty good with that.


[i]Mark 7:1-23, KJV

 

© Mary Batson, Going Home, Front Porch Rambles, and Gran’s Apple Butter Blog, 2010-2011. All rights reserved.
Come visit: http://www.facebook.com/marybatson2 | http://www.frontporchrambles.com

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