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Mental House Cleaning

And the message of liberty is that the cause of sorrow lies in ourselves, and not in the universe; that it lies in our ignorance, and not in the nature of things; that it lies in our blindness, and not in the life.
—Annie Besant

When we come into metaphysical thought, our first feeling is one of liberation. We have given up our creeds and our physicians for both mind and body. We no longer find inspiration in the old church services; nor do we find help in the counsel of our doctor,—the one whom we felt was absolutely necessary to keep us from death's door. So our minister and our doctor are removed. Then we look about us. We find that friends, companions dear to the heart, “our own families” we call them, they, too, are seen in a new light.

We feel a separateness that we never have felt before. We are alone for the first time in our life. We call this liberty freedom, but there is an oppression with it that makes us sad. We feel at times like turning back. We even make the attempt, and find, to our amazement, that it is impossible. We cannot return if we would. We expected great happiness with our liberty. We are like birds in a nest. They anticipate flying. It looks very easy, when the little birds watch the father and mother bird flying so high; but the day comes when they are to try their wings. They sit on the edge of the nest. They make a little effort of the wings, but still clutch the edge of the nest with their feet. The mother bird is obliged to push them into the liberty they crave. Their first experience after leaving the nest is one of loneliness, and they long to return. Liberty does not mean what perhaps they had imagined.

So it is with us. Every step of real progress brings a sense of loneliness at first, simply because we are not yet settled, or at home, in our new state of evolution. But, in spite of the newness, there is a sense of freedom when we place all cause of joy or sorrow within ourselves, when we view life from a different standpoint, and perceive that all difficulty in meeting various conditions in life is due to our ignorance or blindness, and not to the “universe.” Then our first sensation, we might say, is unsatisfactory. Now we begin to think “why?”

We have taken the stand that all is within ourselves, but we do not like what we find. There is such a lot of rubbish to be removed before we can find that which we are seeking. This rubbish consists of self. It is all self in different dresses. We call some of the dresses indolence, indulgence in various ways, resentment, fear, anger, dissatisfaction, or always wishing things were different.

What a house cleaning is before us! But we have an able helper in a servant named Right Purpose; and we work minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, and so on through months and years, gradually clearing our habitation of self and all its belongings. Love is the magic cleaner used by the servant. Right Purpose. Then joy begins to creep in: loneliness is a vanishing guest. We are coming to the point in realization where we “stay at home with the soul.” There is no separation; for we have come nearer to all our friends, companions, and our own families than ever before, for in finding ourselves we have found them.

The sun will shine, and the clouds will lift;
The snow will melt, though high it drift;
Across the ocean there is a shore;
Must we learn the lesson o’er and o'er?
To know there is sun when the clouds droop low,
To believe in the violets under the snow,
To watch on the bows for the land that shall rise,—
This is victory in disguise.

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Katharine H. Newcomb

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