With spring in the air our thoughts might well be turning to the traditional annual springclean of our homes. Linda Thomas, who has run a cleaning business for 20 years, shares her insights into the art of cleaning and caring for the spaces we occupy. In 1988 I started an ecological cleaning company, as a way of fi nancing my children’s Waldorf education. In the beginning I was not only the boss, I was also the only employee, the apprentice, the bookkeeper, everything. I had so much to learn, not only about the right equipment and cleaning agents to use, but also how to conserve my strength, how to protect myself from injury and most of all, how to respect the space of other people. Cleaning can be a very lonely activity. There were times when I cleaned in the early hours of the morning while my family were at home sleeping. I had the experience, cleaning in a big school all by myself in the middle of the night, where everything is so quiet, that I could almost hear the school speak to me. I found myself asking: Is this really what I want to do for the next 19 years (the length of time I would have to fi nance my children’s schooling) – clean away other people’s dirt and put up with their indifference as I try to render a service? People who do this kind of job usually have no direct relationship with their employers or the institution they work for. And who, generally, takes an interest in the people who do the cleaning? But I found that it was during these hours of service that I had time to think thoughts that went beyond my deeds and actions and I remembered things I had heard and learned before which now took on a completely new meaning. I recalled an anecdote about a monk who was rather simple and was given all the menial tasks to do such as the cleaning, washing up and scrubbing of fl oors. He did this happily, always saying a little prayer: “Dear Father, as I wash this plate, send me an angel to wash my heart and make it pure”, or “Dear God, as I wash this fl oor, send me an angel to accompany me, that every person who walks here may be touched by his presence”. For every chore he had a prayer and he continued working in this way for a great many years, until, one morning, so the story goes, he woke up ‘enlightened’ and then people came from far away to listen to his wisdom. Now that’s inspiring! The attitude we have to the work we do is of the utmost importance. If we are unable to fi nd the time to lead a more meditative spiritual life, we can at least try to fi nd a spiritual attitude towards everything we do in our normal daily lives. In other words, if you are not able to do what you love, you should try to love