Yat guon yi jang is a Chinese idiom meaning either very clean or thoroughly/completely and as such is a particularly appropriate title for a post about thoroughly cleaning the kitchen here at the International Centre in Orangeville. We took everything out, scrubbed down the equipment, floors, walls, and shelves, hosed them off, organised everything, and put it all back again in two days. It was a job for 10 people that we managed with less than half as many.
The kitchen is at the Centre is the centre. It is the heart and hearth of our home, with its ebbs and flows of bustling activity and quiet routine. The heart produces the pulse in the body as the kitchen produces the rhythm of the day. Like the heart, it needs balance and freedom from blockages in order to function effectively and efficiently.
Although the kitchen gets cleaned every night, it also needs to be emptied completely and scrubbed in those hard-to-reach places that seem to be magnets for oil and dirt which can accumulate, blocking the arteries. Other things build up as well; duplicate or odd items, extra pots or pans, and rarely-used tools collect on shelves, cluttering the kitchen’s body and mind. Blockages hinder the heart, affecting the functioning of the body just as a cluttered kitchen hinders its functioning, affecting the rhythm of our day.
In this sense, cleaning and de-cluttering is a lot like Taoist Tai Chi® practice – it is like changing the tendons and washing the bones of the kitchen. Letting go and removing blockages is at the core of both and as we work to return the kitchen back to its original form, we also work on ourselves.
We clean not for recognition or thanks (so often cleaning goes unnoticed anyway); we clean because it needs to be done. We clean for others. Some of us will not come back for a year or more so it is truly a labour of love. Cleaning the kitchen is one way we can fulfill the aims and objectives, particularly helping others. It is one of many ways we can take care of others and our home so that future participants will have a harmonious space in which to practice.