Thursday, February 1, 2007

The (Cabinet) Door to the Soul

So, for many moons now, we've had this lllloooonnnngggg drawn out remodeling stuff happening in our house. We got mostly done with THE BIG PROJECT and now are going back and doing some little thingy things here and there to try to spruce up some of the areas that we can't quite afford to do the full monty on yet. Like the kitchen. We really wanted to take down a wall, move another wall, strip out the old cabinets, buy some new ones, get all new appliances, yadda, yadda, yadda, blah, blah, blah. But for now, right now, all that ain't gonna happen. So we settled for installing some new lights, moving a switch, and having a carpenter build a base of open shelves along a new empty wall so that we could extend the counter top and have some space to work on. We started with the base/countertop thing, and decided to add one more spiffy task to the list. Since Mr. DJ was going to have to paint the new wood base anyway, we went ahead and got new knobs and hinges and bought some paint to repaint the existing wood cabinets. This was only going to take a couple of days to complete. Riiiight.

Well, the first phase of base and countertop were finished and so knobs and paint were bought. Mr. DJ came over to get started on the painting o' the cabinets and we decided that first he should move that switch - and as long as he was doing that, he might as well go on and put in all new outlets and switches in that bright white new looking color to replace the dull beige stuff - and by the way could he please install a new outlet upstairs in the new master bath while he was doing all that electrical stuff. Because, after all, once the outlet had been moved we'd need to patch and paint the wall, too, so might as well do all the painting at once keeping the sensory experience of "fresh paint" minimized to a couple of days. In anticipation of the painting - having just finished the initial electrical work - Mr. DJ decided to go ahead and take the doors off of the upper cabinets so when he came back the next day he could start right up on them. Then to finish out that first phase to prepare to paint he set about spackling the holes left from moving the one switch. The prioritizing of tasks seemed to make perfectly good sense at the time. Tomorrow, he'd paint the cabinet doors that he had disassembled. But, then Mr. DJ got sick. Chills, light-headed, nausea - the "I think I'd better go home right now" kind of sick. The "Hello Mrs. M - I'm still feeling pretty sick, so short of a miracle I don't think I'll be there tomorrow " phone call kind of sick.

I'm standing in my kitchen for the third day now with no upper doors and I've got folks coming over tomorrow night. I feel sick.

At first, it didn't bother me. I amused myself with cute antics of doing the silly thing where you forget that there are no doors and so you just kinda absentmindedly reach up to close the door that is no longer there. Awww, duhhh! (dope slap and laughter) Then, I noticed that I had begun to walk into the kitchen for no apparent reason except to just stand there contemplating the cabinets - admiring how much stuff I had managed to cram into these few cabinets and thinking how well I had managed to organize plates and glasses and spices, and tea accoutrements. But then the inevitable next phase came where when I looked at the cabinets, all I could see now was the messiness, the disorganization, the accumulation of unneeded stuff in those less-oft used cabinets - the ones where cabinet doors had been successfully hiding the junk for lo these many years.

Unexpectedly, I discovered that having the doors off of your kitchen cabinets for an extended period of time can become a major exercise in soul-searching. Noticing which areas are carefully ordered (the ones I use the most - plates, glasses, spices) and which areas show definite signs of neglect and disarray (the ones where the leftover storage containers, baking dishes/muffin tins, and kiddie cups and plates are stored). It prompted me to wonder what areas of my inner life, normally hidden and seldom dealt with, could use a little opening up and airing out - a little bit of contemplating. This is what confession is like. First you have to notice that something (usually concealed from public view) is out of order. This take time - it's a gradual awakening to a problem. There are steps for getting to the "I have a problem" place that have to come before we can begin to expose the mess, clean up the salvagable and dispose of the clutter. Getting to that place takes time. Time is a gift that we don't give ourselves often enough. Maybe once in a blue moon we'll stumble on such time, but better to make the effort every so often and just decide to set some time aside to deal with the dark side.

So what have I learned about the dark corners and clutter in my soul? Don't know. Haven't gotten that far yet. Just know that taking those cabinets doors off by the hinges has got me thinking about my soul. While I'm contemplating all that, I'm thinking that maybe the reverse contemplation procedure would work here, too. In very practical terms, those cabinets need help. Maybe I could practice on them before I set to work on the really important-but-harder stuff. I'm imagining a twelve-step program for cluttered cabinets:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over clutter—that our cabinets had become unmanageable.

  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

  3. Made a decision to turn our clutter and our cabinets over to the care of God as we understood Her.

  4. Made a searching and fearless clutter inventory of cabinets.

  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongheaded decisions about kitchen cabinet organization.

  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of cabinet.
    Humbly asked Her to remove our clutter.

I'm still waiting....and I've got six more steps to go! Come on God - hurry up before the doors go back up! What's that you say? I'll have to take some action myself? Oh.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen

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