"It was clean."
"It was what?" I had asked him how he thought the worship service went.
"It was clean? What does that mean?"
"Well, um, it means, he he, what I meant by that was..."
"I can't believe you just called my worship service 'clean'. That's amazing. You have problems."
The man is obsessed with cleanliness. Just a few weeks before this conversation on clean worship, the following had happened.
(me) "Gee, I've got to call my Home Warrenty people to get them to stick their wire down my bathtub."
"Why, what's wrong with it?"
"Well, it won't drain. (Just like all those other pipes - the washer/dryer pipe, the air conditioner pipe all needed to be drained but exploded instead into my house and now I stand bathing as the dirty water rises to my ankles. It's gross. Then it's always slimy stepping in because all my shampoo, conditioner, and soap suds have slowly settled to the bottom of the tub where they remain until I turn on the water for my next shower, step in, and feel the slime and grime under my feat. It's gross."
"Gross? It sounds disgusting. How can you live like that?
"Well I clean the tub every couple of days and try to remember to call the home warranty people."
"Ann, that is inhabitable. I've thought your bathroom's needed a good cleaning anyway, I'll take care of it tomorrow."
"You're going to unplug my drain? You have the equipment for that?"
"No, but I can buy it. I've always wanted to try it anyway, Plus you're bathroom's been driving me nuts lately. I've been wanting to clean it."
"No, you are not cleaning my bathroom."
"Yes I am."
"No you're not. You can stick that tube down the bathtub drain, but if you break something or make it worse, you're paying for it to get fixed." (I always give that line when I'm not convinced he really can complete a task successfully).
"Okay. I'll be here tomorrow. I can't stand the thought of you showering in that one more day."
I half thought he was joking, but mostly knew he wasn't. When I got home from work that night, I saw a sparkling bathroom with sinks, toilet and floor scrubbed. The next morning when I stepped into the shower, I could feel the actual texture of the porcelain. Wow. It was almost streaky clean. My feet were squeeking against the clean tub as I moved to reach for the shampoo bottle, turned to shave an armpit or rinse my hair. Crazy clean. I admit, it was great.
So the guy's got a thing with cleanliness, that's cool. I just need to wipe down the sinks and toilet when he comes over. No biggie.
Then two weeks later the first conversation ensued.
"What's you think about worship tonight?"
"It was clean."
"You have issues."
Today I met him for coffee as we both had work to do that is more fun done out of the office. He had recently caught poison ivy in his attempts to help me clean my backyard which might as well be described as a Jungle Junkyard. But that's a blog for another time. "How's the poison ivy?" I asked.
"It's better. The doctor said I took so many baths today that I've surely gotten all the oil off so it won't spread or be transferred to other people."
"How many times have you showered today? (Keep in mind it was only 4:30pm).
"You have problems."
Imagine if we all were so obsessed about cleanliness in our lives.
What if we live ecologically with Frank's obsessive cleanliness. We'd all recycle and we'd take the stuff they won't take at the street down to the recycling center. We'd clean our houses with ecologically friendly soaps and sprays. We'd buy solar cars and snub the poor folks in their hybrids (in a very loving manner of course).
Wouldn't that rock?
Imagine if we were so obsessed about cleanliness in our lives.
What if we live with a clean slate with Frank's obsessive cleanliness. We'd come clean with our business partners and start treating them as people, equals, with respect because coming clean with people means you lay it all out on the table and then you get your work done. We'd come clean with our friends and family. We wouldn't bicker like girls over stupid stuff. We wouldn't beat each other up (cause that can leave big messes) We'd live in a community of honesty, forgiveness and love. We'd come clean with our significant others. We wouldn't play mind games or think in manipulative manners. We would simply love honestly and commit to confess that love in order to make clean what living intimately with someone has inevitably made dirty.
Cause even though it seems that if you take two "dirties" (and by dirties, yes, I do mean people), and put them on a task, that task would end up unclean as well. But that's not what happens. Hardly ever. Two humans put their minds and talents together and they produce beauty. Six staff members brainstorm how to create creatively a worship service that reminds us of God's presence and then sends us back into the world; and when they seek to make it clean, God's sort of clean, and also lay it on the table clean (even if its our sin and isn't pretty) if we lay it clean on the table, it is actually made clean in the remembering, the forgiveness, the grace we receive when we trade what we've laid out for a piece of bread and a sip of wine. Clean. Nice.
And so perhaps my friend Frank is a little over the top with his cleanliness. So what if he cleans his apartment and then his maid comes in and cleans it again. He has also lowered himself to my bathtub filled with grime and has taught me much about cleanliness along the way...