As I woke up this morning, I immediately went to the bathroom, opened the cleaning cabinet, reached in and found the toilet cleaner that would reek of bleach, and I began to clean the toilet. I quietly scrubbed the toxins and said prayers of releasing as I removed the waste that had been living in my stained, white toilet. I was working for a pure white toilet and the smell of bleach rising reminded me, “cleanliness is next of Godliness.” I knew within I was calling God to come sit with me and hold me and my heart in place. I continued to clean with vigor as opened up a corner of dirt that had been existing for too long. I knew I would find my scent of God in the bleached, whiteness of the bowl. I could not accept failure.
I now know why my mother cleaned with dedication. When there was so much chaos going on around her, at least she had a clean house. My mother wanted to feel the presence of God, the presence of the possibilities to feel clean in a world that thought her to be unworthy.
Waking up to a world that seems to be falling apart at the seams makes you want to clean every available corner of all of its dirt and clutter. The dirt rising from the corners that have been lying there unattended for far too long. Every morning I look into the corner and make a mental note to clean out the gathering dust and dirt. I tell myself I am too busy as I rush to make my way through my modern world. But now, I think it is time to clean house. The corner could not clean itself.
I am a creature of rituals, the human behavior patterns that are the touchstones that quilt stability into our human journey.
On my knees, cleaning with a mission, I envision every tile which had been left unattended has a chance to be liberated and allowed to experience and be a tile of freedom. It is the time for your story to shine and be heard. I wanted the song of the tile to be sung so I may be released as the echoes of our universal song releases me. I felt as if me and the tile were one, waking and walking together. Every step of failure I had ever made in my entire life met with me in my corner of the bathroom. I had to accept the truth of the absence. I could only accept failure in the context of being proactive as I cleaned the corner and released the fears of failure. Me and the tile were one in solution.
No more anger over the lost lives of slavery, women who were treated as sexual objects or the containers for someone’s next generation, I will remember. I will remember the lost lives of gay women and gay men who committed suicide because of not being wanted in our society. I want to celebrate their lives in the honoring of my own life and the rights of all others. All lives matter, but my life matters because it is all I have being gay, a father, a teacher, writer and human activist, embodied in a black life. I will not accept failure as a way of life, even when I feel I am drowning in the fears of so many others. Every tile represents to me the closed hearts and ears of compassion. I will gently clean the tile to allow the portals to open the ears and hearts of my fellow human beings. I want us to become one. We all have stories, universal truths that weave us back together as one. If we are truly a Christian nation, I hope we follow the pathway of Christ, love.
I know it is not God’s fault we are living in the belly of such hatred. Hatred is a human emotion birthed from belly of fear and ignorance. We are creatures of choice, as far back as the Garden of Eden. We are people born of story and many cultures, but we come from one Creator All of the blood of our individual bodies bleed red. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu or people of Buddha traditions are searchers of God. Neither one religion owns the love and grace of God. We have different cultural stories or myths of creation, but we are all God’s children.
My heart is heavy, but, I will not allow this heaviness of sadness to drown out my sense of being a loving human being. As I clean each tile, I focus on what has been left undone, unfinished. I imagine each tile is a person or a group of people being wiped clean or set free to sing a song of freedom. This is a ritual, a living prayer of intention. My cleaning metaphor, my mother’s ritual of release is my key reason I can show up more fully as me. As I look at my sparkling bathroom and hear the singing birds in the garden, I remember I have a song to sing and I will not accept failure. I remember the truth of our voices joined together, as we become a unified singing choir.