Sweeping the Stoop and Reflections of Repetition
Written by
Karen Devaney
October 2013
Written by
Karen Devaney
October 2013

As I swept the dirt and leaves off of the front stoop I thought about the repetition of cleaning up after an autumn tree that would continue to shed.  Sort of silly really and it is not that I don’t like the look of leaves on the ground—I do.  But I’d been at my computer all morning and needed a break; what better excuse to go outside then to sweep?  The broom was happy to be used (it often sits crying in the corner of the laundry room) whisking away I thought about the passage I read earlier in the morning in my Sufi Book of Life.  It spun a new way to look at repetition as part of the divine world part of learning about the self only we are privy to.  We all have them; those spaces within where God or Spirit, or One (whatever name you want to use) waits patiently.  The passage spoke of repetition as a learning process and I thought about how often I told my composition students that learning to write is like playing an instrument it is merely a matter of practice.

The wind blew and my little pile of leaves scattered.  I began sweeping again wondering if I could let go of self-condemnation for not learning a lesson the first time?  Echoes of social adages “fool me once and shame on you fool me twice…, and the real humdinger “why do you keep making the same mistake over and over” played in my head.  According to the Sufi philosophy we can look at our efforts in trying to change as a divine gift.  We have to practice over and over to really imprint the new idea or way of behaving or thinking about ourselves and the world.  Often when my ego thinks I’ve released a useless pattern, out of nowhere it knocks on my door again asking, remember me?

Spirituality is like a mountain top with  many roads that lead me there and I forget that even if I get lost there is a way back there is never a closed for repairs sign.  Often along the journey I get sidetracked and before I know it, I am treading the same path and have not gotten to any higher vista.  I am beginning to realize that I must not have seen all there was to see the first go round.  I needed to take a closer look to repeat the lesson.  And even in moments of clarity, I may not hold on to that clarity in every situation.  I may temporarily forget the message and have to venture back to it.

I am referring to those mental/spiritual patterns of judgment (self/other) that we get trapped in that keep us from living from the heart in all situations.  Those ideologies that foster separateness rather than unity. Unity within and around us.   I realize this sounds impossible but here is where the repetition comes in again.  We can practice until the gaps become smaller and smaller and when we fail rather than flagellating ourselves we can merely get back to the trail and repeat the course. Being a type I diabetic since the age of five gave me an awareness of my physical mortality or least I think it is a contributing factor that in turn led to my fascination with spirituality ( we all have our unique reasons).  It is simple really—like leaves that repeatedly fall every autumn change comes round and round.  Being able to recognize what we cling to is part of the learning to let go. 


I try to listen to still my mind long enough to hear the unseen; it is as essential for me as exercising my body.  Mantra’s or the repetition of positive life giving words that feed us does not magically make us more loving or more enlightened rather it is in the regular facing of situations where we make the words relevent action oriented—like sweeping leaves from a stoop and reflecting about what I've read.  

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