I stopped by my future apartment today to pick up some mail and check on the progress of the "cleaning and painting" being done on my new home.
There was a CREW of 3 or 4 people...some painting, some laying new kitchen tile, another laying new bathroom tile. Every room in my apt will be NEWLY refurbished by next week sometime.
The apartment management company, Bernstein Management, operates apartment buildings in DC, MD, and VA. I looked at apts in three of them, and every single place was shiny clean and in perfect repair.
I told the building manager today that I'd never seen anything like this outside of a convent!
The convent in which I spent my handful of years in religious life was really three buildings: the novitiate, the provincial ("pro") house, and the home of the old and infirm sisters.
The upkeep of the buildings was in the strong, chapped hands of one Sister Harriet. Sister Harriet, despite her enormous responsibilities and long hours, actually was retired--from hospital administration--and living out her days at a less strenuous, if not exactly leisurely, pace.
Sir Alexander Fleming, famous for describing and naming Penicillin, visited Sister Harriet's hospital one time and said, "Sister, this is the cleanest hospital I've ever seen in my entire life." I don't recall if she swooned or not, but if Sister Harriet was fond of mops & buckets before this event, she loved them devotedly after that. And she never hesitated to use strong measures to keep dirt at bay.
Once or twice a year, she gave each of the novices a package of steel wool and a bottle of powerful wax remover. She sent us out into the corridors to remove the floor wax that had built up by the walls and in the corners during weekly buffing by heavy floor polishers. Since we had taken the vow of poverty, there were none of the rubber gloves sported by the likes of Donna Reed and other middle-class housewife types on TV. (There was no TV, either.)
After a day of floor wax removal, none of us would have been able to leave a fingerprint since the whorl things on our fingertips had been eaten away by the steel wool and cleaning potion. It was always a relief to wake up the next morning and find that our fingernails were no longer soft and gummy.
Books talk a lot about the "odor of sanctity" in convents. What people are smelling is not sanctity....it's soap. I'm looking forward to moving into the good, clean smell of a freshly painted and refurbished apartment next week. If that's sanctity, I'll take it.