cover image Sweeping Changes: Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks

Sweeping Changes: Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks

Gary Thorp. Walker & Company, $19 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-1360-5

This delightful, offbeat book is at once a pragmatic primer on housekeeping and an aesthetic treatise on the mindfulness of Zen practice. Thorp, a lay monk and laid-back Californian who has studied Zen for 40 years, emphasizes the intent surrounding each housekeeping activity, not the end result of cleanliness. Lawns should be mindfully mowed ""with every fiber of your being""; dishes should be washed with particular, single-minded care. ""Your life and all that's in it are simply on loan to you and are clearly precarious,"" cautions Thorp, encouraging readers to use certain chores (raking dead leaves, recycling and mending clothes, for example) as occasions to reflect on the transience of life. He also notes that housekeeping can provide opportunities to feel gratitude for the interconnectedness of all things: the water flowing from the river through the treatment plant to the sink sustains life in the home; clean windows allow for greater openness to the outdoors. Thorp brilliantly uses the quotidian nature of oft-despised chores to teach important lessons about perpetual respectfulness and appreciation. This book can serve as an excellent introduction to an accessible, independent Zen practice, or simply as a gentle reminder of the innate spirituality buried in everyday acts. (Mar.)