Every time I head out for a run, I pass the same woman sweeping the brick sidewalk that climbs up a slow hill. We wave and smile at each other, acquaintances of a sort in this almost daily interchange. As the seasons change, so does her outerwear and for the past few months it is merely by the familiar crinkle of her aged and sparkling eyes peeping out from under a scarf, and the steady presence of the straw broom hanging from her right hand that communicates this is indeed the same woman. She sweeps the same section of this road, day after day, hour after hour, and apparently for over a year now. I am not sure if she is a migrant worker, or if this has always been her home. I wonder what she thinks about all that sweeping.
I sweep too, day after day. And I wash, hour after hour. And have been doing so, for well over several years now. I am not sure if I am a migrant worker either... or if this will always be my home. I wonder too what I think about all this cleaning.
There is a part of me that sees how it is all undone almost as soon as it is completed, and then it is done and undone again. This can be maddening, or rhythmic. I am certainly not trying to romanticize the tasks. Scrubbing a dirty toilet holds little aesthetic or devotional glamour for me, but it is less wearying than it used to be. There is some sense of value, of goodness (could I even say the overused but undervalued word grace?) in it: the humility of low places, dirty places, remembering that all things need daily cleansing, seeing that the best scrubbing can only be done by an outside agent and usually by hand, and the simple joy of being able to daily undo even the smallest of this world's ugliness.