Living Arts Weekly: The Invisible Benefits of Spring Cleaning

This week’s Domestic Arts post comes from Judith Frizlen, author and early childhood educator. Judith is also the instructor for our on-demand online course, Creating Home Away from Home,  and author of several books. You can read more from Judith at her website here.  

You could say that homemaking was an acquired taste for me. I have always appreciated beauty and order but I have also preferred adventures, good books and conversations to doing housework.

I did not find meaning in tending my home; as a woman, I knew it was my right to choose how I spend my time. Although being a woman did not decide my relationship to traditional domestic chores, learning about the spiritual aspect of homemaking in my LifeWays training did. It inspired me to create a sanctuary in my home.

By sanctuary, I mean a refuge, a place of safety and peace that supports the wellbeing of those who live there. The human being, I have learned, consists of physical, energetic, emotional and cognitive aspects. These aspects also live in the home. I am aware that it may be a stretch to imagine nonphysical forces or entities living alongside the material world. I don’t suggest you take my word for it, but do your own experiments.

When you walk into a space, you see the physical or material aspects – the furniture, plants, artwork, appliances – are all visible to the naked eye. Yet there is more than what meets the eye. There is a feeling or a sense you get when you walk into a home. There is an energy that has to do with how the home is tended and lived in. Engage your imagination and a sense of playfulness to explore the hidden world of nonphysical entities.

A home that is tended regularly and deep cleaned seasonally has an energy of health and well being. That is to say, nonphysical beings trapped in cluttered and dusty rooms are freed up to support human health. You may have heard children’s stories about household helpers, often called brownies. They are spirits or non physical entities along the lines of fairies and goblins. For the fun of it, picture them working alongside you when you tend your home.

I cannot claim to have ever seen these beings, but I can imagine their presence in my home and I sense the difference in how my home feels when I have tended it in a way that supports these life-enhancing forces. The same applies to the emotional timbre of a home; one that is filled with humor, warmth and joy feels different that one that is is forbidding, cold and sorrow filled. Can you imagine the impact of music, art and creativity on the home?

Just as there is a spiritual element in humans, there is also one in the home. I think we are surrounded by the spiritual forces we invite into our lives. A home that is full of light, physically and metaphorically is warm and bright. What we seek is supported by the non-physical world; we align ourselves with forces through our thoughts. Aren’t thoughts a familiar form of nonphysical reality?

In other words, our homes support us and our activities more when we align with it. It’s a reciprocal relationship. In covid virus times, home was our work place, yoga studio, zoom party palace, movie house, art gallery, spa and fine dining room. Even before the pandemic, I have enjoyed spending time in my home; it is the ideal place for reading and writing – two of my favorite activities.

Spring is the time for deep cleaning our homes, based on cultural and religious traditions and for me, personal experience. The tradition began when winter heating left homes covered in grime and soot; deep cleaning was required to get rid of it along with stale air. Spring weather allows for opening doors and windows to let in fresh air. Sunshine reveals streaks and smudges on windows and cabinetry. Entryways bear the signs of muddy boot traffic.

In March, I am inspired to spring clean. That is, not only the usual vacuuming, mopping and wiping down surfaces, but deeper cleaning like the inside of cupboards, closets and drawers. Windows get cleaned inside and out, books on shelves dusted and dried flowers replaced with fresh ones. I use vinegar in water and aromatic oils so there are no harsh chemical smells and I let in fresh air.

When March is going back and forth between the lion and the lamb, I bring a presence of spring into my home. I put cut forsythia branches into a vase for them to bloom months before they do outdoors. My collection of Easter eggs gets hung from branches. I sprout wheat grass in a tray. It grows fast in the sunlight with regular watering and the spring green color reminds me of what will soon come outdoors.

While I work, I am getting physical exercise, renewing my relationship with both my home and the natural world, as well as clearing out my thinking. Along with dirt, old thoughts that are not serving me well get wiped away and replaced by ones that support what I really want. Truly a breath of fresh air blows in!

Preparing my home for the celebration of springtime and renewal is good for my home, good for my soul and good for my spirit. It also serves all those I welcome into it (which has been limited to family this past year). Besides, tending my home makes me a domestic goddess, a title I will accept and do my best to live up to.

I have found that an elevated attitude about tending my home has uplifted the work and what’s more – me!