When I am faced with an impending flu epidemic or at my wits end trying to figure out how I offended Mrs. Levy my nosy neighbor, my method of coping has always been the same; first I pray and then I clean. But when husband Michel underwent triple by-pass surgery I pulled out all the stops and went super strength with my supplications and all out with a major spring clean.
As soon as I returned from the hospital I made a dash for my bottle of environmentally- safe spray cleaner and spent a good hour scraping, rubbing and shining the countertop until I couldn’t feel the blood circulating in my arm and the formica was speaky clean. My rational was if I could bring a dirty floor to life my praying could help unclog Michel’s arteries. With a sparkling clean kitchen and a plea to Above, I was able to manage a few hours of necessary shut eye that allowed me to sustain a sense of normalcy when nothing in my life seemed normal at all.
Not only did prayer help me through Michel’s recovery period at our spanking clean home, but it has been an effective replacement for my anti-anxiety pill when I’m buckled in my seat with clenched fists, sweaty palms and eyes closed at an altitude of 35,000 feet. Whether I’m expressing hope for the welfare of an anonymous patient inside a speeding ambulance or mumbling words of thanks for that last available parking spot, prayer is as much a part of my day as emptying the dishwasher, folding the laundry or picking up the crumbs from the kitchen floor.
Just like different surfaces warrant their own unique cleaning product, different situations call for unique types of prayer. On Friday nights I pray while covering my eyes to bring in the Sabbath, on weekday mornings I sit with my feet dangling over the foot of my bed silently singing the morning prayer that I learned in Day School and when I am anxious about receiving a medical test result I rock, ever so slightly, back and forth in a one-way conversation with G-d begging that nothing will be amiss.
I’m not only slipping more readily into prayer, but also finding myself sweeping and scrubbing a lot more since moving to Israel.All I need to pray is a clear mind and, on occasion, a prayer book, but supporting my cleaning therapy without my favorite Canadian brand of window and glass cleaner has been no less challenging to me than any other adjustment that had to be made upon arrival. Once I found a local substitute for Fragrance Free Tide, the cleaning and praying combo has worked wonders for helping to rein in some control when it has been in scarce supply.
In Israel I’m certainly not alone when it comes to seeking divine intervention or expressing gratitude. In all my years of living on the Canadian Prairies, I never witnessed a cement truck driver wrapped in prayer shawl and phylacteries standing at a construction site or Muslim bus drivers rolling out prayer mats and bowing to Allah in the middle of a bus station. And, it wasn’t so long ago that I stood behind an elderly gentleman at the banking machine who dropped his credit card. As I bent down to pick up the card, he reciprocated the deed by blessing me with good health. Prayer is as much a part of everyday life here as snapping the smartoot in place and mopping up the water that wouldn’t fully drain from the morning shower.
There have been many times when I have sailed through life with the greatest of ease and it is precisely during those times when my bookshelves would be hard pressed to pass a white glove dust test. When the living has been easy I can also take for granted all of the blessings that abound. But, lucky me, my mid-life move to Israel has stepped up both my cleaning and praying a notch. For this, well lets just say…I’m grateful.