A while ago, I had the privilege of “downloading” this definition from Source:
“Cleaning is the process of removing dirt from any space, surface, object or subject, thereby exposing beauty, potential, truth and sacredness.”
I have shared that or versions of it with youth in high schools and after school programs, with undergraduate and graduate students, with professionals, executives, entrepreneurs, and leaders at conferences and organizations, with inmates, ex-inmates and with church congregations. The one word that seems to rattle people especially “educated” ones, is the word truth. I however refuse to make it more appealing. Our society has discomfort around that word and that is not new.
While examining Jesus Christ before the crucifixion, Pilate asked, “what is truth” after Jesus had said, “I came to bear witness to the truth.”
What is truth?
Our world and the universe is governed by truth even if we try to reject it. Everything you do against the truth only affirms it. As Paul so beautifully said, “we can do nothing against the truth but for the truth.”
From a Cleaner viewpoint, truth is that which cannot be changed. When you clean, you don’t remove the floor and the walls and the ceiling and most times you may move the furniture and appliances but you don’t change them. They are surely not ultimate truth because even the building can be demolished. But they represent truth. On earth, the solid ground on which we stand represents ultimate truth. It is not ultimate truth by itself because it is subject to change. After all, a giant meteor can obliterate the planet in the twinkling of an eye and David reminded us that the earth can be removed and thrown into the sea. This ground, this earth is shiftable as earthquakes remind us but it is a figure, a metaphor, a reminder that there is a solid ground to stand on that does not shift, tilt or sink.
A dizzying sensation of tilting in stable surroundings is called vertigo. In order to correct it, you don’t change the surroundings but the perception, to align it with the truth. It is insane to be worried that the ground will not sustain me or to consider a wall as solid ground. Insanity begins when we become unmoored, which may explain the increase in mental health issues.
Whatever is visible is changeable and is therefore not ultimate truth but the things we see serve as reminders of truth. Their mutability is not a reason to decide that everything is mutable but a reason to reach for the immutability our hearts bear witness to. The reason metaphors and pointers to the eternal exist at all is because our hearts are timeless and they reach for timelessness. Vertigo results when our minds deny what our hearts know is true.
We are told Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. Truth is that which does not change, that which we can stand on and never be afraid of shifting. We do that on the physical planet on which we live, move and have our being. We believe it will hold and sustain us, our structures and our activities. Solid ground is a metaphor, for truth.
When we clean, our task is to remove dirt, trash and clutter and get to truth. Cleaning requires an often unacknowledged belief that “beauty is truth, truth beauty” as John Keats said. The ultimate truth is not something to be afraid of. It is beauty beyond description. If the truth you hold about yourself or the universe is broken or ugly, it is not ultimate. You can go further. And when you are open to truth, you will find it regardless of where you start.
If you are sincerely seeking truth in Banking, you will find it. If you are sincerely seeking truth in Cleaning, you will find it. If you sincerely seek truth in Law, you will find it. It is the solid ground on which everything rests, the point you get to beyond which there is no more seeking. It is ultimate reality, the eternal in whom we live, move and have our being. Cornelius found truth though he was not searching the scriptures. Sincere astrologers found the truth looking at the stars.
If all you know is the Koran or the Bhagavad Gita, you will still find the truth if you are sincerely seeking. Why? Ultimate truth is not a thing but a Person whose eyes run to and fro throughout the earth and reveals Himself to whoever sincerely seeks Him even if they think they are seeking “it”, from wherever they are seeking. And if you are closed to the truth, you will never find it but will experience vertigo even if you read, quote and sleep with the Bible every night and are in church 24/7.