This is a story — a story about how transformation happens. A story about the many paths through which we find our way back to the wellspring from which all joy and magic, beauty and creation flows.

This is a story about love, and messes, and house-cleaning. On many different scales.

You walk into your kitchen one night, after the kiddos are in bed, to get a glass of water. Barefoot, you step into a sticky mess. You’re half asleep, the soles of your feet stick to the floor with every step you take, and you’ve no idea what mess you’ve just walked into, but you wish it would go away.

Maybe you swear, or rage, or cry. And then, you figure out how you’re going to address the sticky mess on your floor.

Maybe you turn on the overhead light and examine the mess minutely for archetypes and symbols as though it were divination sprawled under your feet instead of something that looks and feels suspiciously like tar, only slipperier, making your eyes water.

Or maybe you take the therapeutic approach, plonk yourself down in the sticky mess and feel — really feel — what it feels like (gooey, icky, cold, slippery, inky). Until you need to pee and realize your zeal to be-in-your-feelings has left you stuck to the floor.

Or, you assess the situation, analyze what the gooey stuff on your floor actually is, first by sniffing it up close, and then by tasting it on the tip of your tongue only to realize either your dog or your kid or the two in cahoots have managed to get into your very expensive collection of gel drawing pens imported from Germany, have chewed or otherwise smashed them open and spread their inky insides all over your kitchen floor.

So, now you know what the gooey mess is, you call on your years of experience with cleaning up messes of various kinds — domestic messes, inner messes, relational, environmental, legal, political, economic, social messes. And kitchen messes.

You gather the appropriate cleaning supplies, get down on your hands and knees, and scrub the gunk off your kitchen floor.

You do this because you love your floor as you love everything around you — for the life and beauty that is its alone. For the ways in which it holds you and the ones you love, even when they don’t know how to care for it.

And your love — for your floor, for your child, for your dog, for your own tired self — transforms you, though transformation is not its intent.

Love is.

Love cleans up the mess, not because it’s supposed to; not because it hates the mess-makers; not even because it hates messes.

Love does it for love. That’s all the reason love ever needs.

The love that cleans up messes is one kind of energy alchemy. The most simple and accessible, and the most profoundly difficult to practice. We love ourselves. We hate ourselves. We ignore ourselves. We shrink or inflate or otherwise Alice-in-Wonderland ourselves.

And whatever we do with ourselves, however we love or don’t love ourselves, will shape how we behave towards the world around us. Our love, or lack of it, will show up in how we live our lives, run our businesses, serve our clients, care for the most vulnerable among us. It’ll show up in how we relate, not just to those whom we love or admire or seek to emulate, but to the voiceless ones, the ones with no status or wealth or kindness to bestow upon us.

It shows up in how we relate to those who most need our solidarity, our love, and yes, our labour to clean up the cumulative mess of systemic inequity, systemic injustice, the depredations of runaway capitalism.

This is the mess-cleaning that we do because we are part of the ecology of this world. We do it for love. We do it because it’s the right thing to do. We do it because our mess-cleaning powers are needed to heal the devastation we have wrought on each other, on the rest of the natural world.

We have wreaked such havoc, as a species. We have burned and looted, dredged and ripped and shredded. We have killed for food, for sport, for land and honour and tribal loyalties. We have killed for profit; for greed; for ideologies that bear no relationship to the truth of who we are, why we are here on this planet at this time in its history, and how intimately we are interconnected.

Clean up your inner messes first, so your power to clean up the messes we have made as a species flows unobstructed.

Do it for love. Do it because love in action is the great equalizer, the great transformer, the one force that can alchemize the mess we’ve made of our world.

Love liberates and fulfills the promise of life.