Buddha in the Bathtub


“Whatever are you doing?!”

Steve is standing in the bathroom doorway, still wearing his bike helmet and gloves. He’s just come home from work to find me in the bathtub, naked, dripping wet, and scrubbing the tiled walls with a toothbrush.

“I’m cleaning,” I explain matter-of-factly, still scrubbing vigorously.

“I can see that,” comes the somewhat amused reply. “But why are you doing that?”

Setting aside the toothbrush, I turn to face my perplexed husband. “Well, I got home from work about 20 minutes ago and felt particularly grungy from cleaning vacated apartments all day. So, I got in the tub to take a nice bath. And, while I was bathing, all I could see was the beginning of a ring around the tub. There. Or, that these tiles around the faucets, right here…” (leaning over, I point to the incriminating evidence) “…are getting a little skuzzy. I figured I’d better deal with this right away before it gets really nasty. And, since I am already in the bathtub — well, it just seemed like a perfect time to clean!”

Steve is staring at me oddly and seems uncertain how to respond. Poor dear. Guess he just doesn’t see the fascination in cleaning.

Sheepishly, I shrug a little and add, “I really don’t mind doing it. In fact, in an odd way I take pleasure from cleaning. It’s actually very satisfying to make things shine. Anyway, I’ll be through in a few minutes and then….”

Forgetting both Steve and any need to finish my sentence, I pick up the toothbrush and return my complete attention to the tiles.

As an afterthought, however, I call out to Steve, who has, in the meantime, moved past the bathroom doorway, into our bedroom to change out of his gear, and (from the distinct thuds and thumps I hear) has just stashed his bike in the closet and is now tossing his bike shoes in rapid-fire pursuit.

“You know, it is rather funny, Steve. Now that I spend my workdays cleaning, I see things that need cleaning everywhere I look. Can’t really help it. That’s simply what I see….”

And, although I am now (in all likelihood) probably just talking aloud to myself, I continue my philosophic cogitation. “Isn’t that what the spiritual teaching says? You know, something like, Wherever you put your focus in life is what you see more of? Yeah, something like that,” I assure myself, nodding thoughtfully while shaking more cleanser onto the toothbrush and pondering whether, instead of yellow rubber duckies, I might start a cottage industry selling plump rubber Buddhas for the bathtub.

Finally finished with the tiles, I stand up to pull the curtain closed and turn on the shower, splashing the water, this way and then that, to rinse all the scouring suds off the walls. Satisfied at last, I shut my eyes, tip back my head and silently relish the warm spray pouring down my face and body until I feel marvelously, deliciously clean.

Reaching to turn off the faucet, I pause abruptly. “Uh-oh. If cleaning is to be my job these days, I guess I’d better take care now to not just see the dirt everywhere in life.”

“Or, better yet,” (jubilantly, I fling open the shower curtain), “I will practice seeing that every object, person and moment in life that’s seemingly mired in muck is…underneath it all…a perfect and shining creation!”

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Catherine Grotenhuis
Catherine Grotenhuis, like many readers of The Edge, sees life as a spiritual journey. After decades of designing and directing programs serving the elderly, caregivers, and immigrant/multi-lingual teenagers, she now cares for her elderly parents and supports her blended family. This article is an excerpt from the book she wrote during years of traveling between homes in California and St. Paul. A Religion major from Carleton College, she is a prayer chaplain at Unity Minneapolis and a Deeksha Giver (Oneness Blessing) trained through Unity Berkeley in California. Contact Catherine at [email protected].


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