It might be the ugliest day of the year. Under a grim gray sky, a damp, penetrating chill hangs in the air. The snow is filthy, the grass streaked with mud, the streets littered with fallen branches. Every front yard has some forlorn aspect: a fallen tree, a toppled garden ornament, scraggly shrubs, bent by heavy snows.
My own house is showing the wear of a long winter. The floors and walls look sooty and drab, furniture is out of place, the kitchen is crying out for a new coat of paint and cabinet repairs. Even the dog, badly in need of grooming, is resembling a remnant of shag carpeting. Her eyes are barely visible through layers of long matted hair.
I am struggling to keep the dinginess from seeping into my soul. I look for affirmation from the outside world and feel irritable and depressed. I want to put the covers over my head and wish it all away.
The more I try to ignore the mess, the unhappier I get. There is only one solution. I need to use some everyday alchemy to transform the ugliness into beauty. It is time to grab a broom and a sponge and start anywhere. Sweep the winter grit off the porch, wash the fingerprints off the walls, and, in the words of a familiar prayer, “cleanse the thoughts of heart and mind.”