Your assignment this morning should you choose to accept it:
Write a spiritual blog about the most un-spiritual thing you can imagine.
In my case: Our Toilet.
There are certain aspects in our human lives that we often want to literally and figuratively sweep under the rug. Hide under the radar. Not discuss at a dinner party. Keep behind closed doors.
We think it’s not tactful to discuss certain portions of our lives. We want to be civilized, presentable, appropriate. Don’t we?
We certainly don’t want to discuss some things in our blogs or essays.
We want to wear our public smiles, keeping certain things closeted and private.
It’s all good.
Nonetheless, I am about to tell a spiritual story about our toilet.
In fact, I shall tell a spiritual story about two toilets. The Tale of Two Toilets.
Every Little House in the Big Woods needs a toilet. We installed our first toilet back 29 years ago. In an effort to support conservation and earth-friendly practices, we purchased a Swedish Ifo toilet. Back in those Middle Ages, toilets utilized about five gallons of water with every flush. Our plucky Ifo flushed with 1.5 gallons.
Our New Age toilet was a little odd, though. Most silver flushing handles flush down. You push down and–whoosh!–out comes the sparkling clean water from the back tank, taking away everything no longer needed in life. Our Ifo featured a white knob upon its pristine top. You pulled the Ifo button up toward the sky, up toward the heavens, and–whoosh!–out poured the sparkling Waters of Life, allowing everything no longer needed in life to swirl delightfully down the pipes into the hidden Septic World.
Every unsuspecting visitor for years heard this gentle spiritual teaching.
“Flush up!” we earnestly advised. “Pull the knob up, not down.”
If you didn’t educate, the poor guest lingered over-long in the pretty blue and wood bathroom, befuddled, wondering if he would experience nightmares for the rest of his life about the Toilet that Wouldn’t Flush, and the humiliation that ensued.
“Flush up!” was our mantra, our words of wisdom. Up toward the heavens, up toward positive thinking, up toward the Universal Wisdom.
Years upon Ifo years passed and our toilet only challenged us once. It broke and we searched diligently for on-line parts, finally locating them in a California warehouse. My esteemed husband decided to write a column about our Ifo toilet in our local newspaper, breaking bathroom taboos years ago. I read, little suspecting that some day, I too, would flush through the civilized barrier and share with the larger reading public.
Friday night, yes, two days ago, we motored over to Marquette for a shopping and Thai Restaurant excursion. In between purchases of extra-firm tofu and brown fava beans, we impulsively–oh so impulsively!–not even pre-planned in a thoughtful and responsible manner!–paused in the aisle of the gleaming white and biscuit-colored toilets at Menards and–don’t say it’s so–raised our eyebrows at one another and called for a blue-shirted worker to load the heavy biscuit 1.6 gallon flusher on a cart–and off we and our VISA card moved toward the checkout counter.
We were flushed with excitement at our daring.
We must now back up with explanations. Why we think we need a new toilet. But we’re in a delicate arena now. How to best say it? One member of our family is scheduled for an upcoming knee replacement operation. It has been a bit challenging to navigate upward off the loo in the last fifteen months, and one of the screws at the bottom of the porcelain goddess has bent and loosened. We don’t need a leak. We don’t need a flood.
(I must consult with said family member about including the prior sentence. These things are sensitive, you know.)
A sign at the store advertised, “No tools needed!”
We all know that one needs tools to install a Porcelain Goddess. One must lie worshipfully before her and apply wax seals, tighten screws, and other religious acts of dutiful dedication.
Yesterday we spent the entire day kneeling at the feet of our new Mansfield. OK, I did not kneel. Neither did Barry. He laid at the feet of the goddess, and I acted as a valuable helper, digging for 1/2 inch wrenches ( “There ARE no 1/2 inch wrenches!” “Yes, there are.” “No, there aren’t!” “Yes, there are.”) and tightening screws to appropriate tightness.
During the hours when no toilet operated, the woods became our new bathroom. All good campers and hikers know about this open-air bathroom, don’t we? It involves leaves and contorted positions, especially if one is female. It is not pleasant, but often proves invigorating.
Enough of that.
Our supposed tool-less simple installation took most of the afternoon and involved a trip to town to purchase more supplies. It was not a pretty sight when the Ifo exposed her privates. No. I won’t tell you what adhesive wax rings look like after 29 years. You might not even want to imagine it. Move on the next paragraph, please.
My good toilet-repairman-husband was not pleased at several junctures, especially when the last screws refused to tighten properly leaked profusely all over the bathroom floor. He did not explain to his erstwhile helper that he had alternative plans involving silicone if the screws failed entirely; therefore, I was near tears at the failure of our Goddess. My spiritual faith deserted me entirely. All meditative equanimity leaked away. I was a mess, and the repairman tossed around several expletives toward the Royal Throne.
Come dinner time, the discovery of a badly aligned royal seal revealed itself and, after another alignment–along with a glass of beer and wine for the royal servants–the Throne was now complete.
It was ready to go.
We were ready to go.
Our spiritual equanimity restored, we did our thing.
I believe that’s enough to share with all of you.
When you come over to visit, please flush “down”. I don’t believe we’ll have to instruct you.
You’re on your own.
Please close the door, though. Certain subjects are private, as we all know.