Wax on, wax off

I just finished reading a series of little books called We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, which contain articles by people who had direct dealings with Mrs. Eddy in one way or another. The last article in the series was written by Martha W. Wilcox, who worked as a housekeeper in Mrs. Eddy’s home.

Reading Wilcox’s article, I was surprised to learn that the woman who taught that “there is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter” could be downright finicky about matters of housekeeping. The top sheet on her bed was to be turned down exactly two and a half inches every morning. She insisted that meals be served at exactly the same time every day — never a minute early or late. Even the pins in her pincushion were organized by length.

At first glance, this seemed incongruous. If matter isn’t real, then who cares what time supper is on the table?

But Mrs. Eddy never did anything without a good spiritual reason, and this was no exception. Wilcox explains: “She showed me that unless I were faithful and orderly with the objects of sense that made up my present mode of consciousness, there could never be revealed to me the truer riches or the progressive higher revealments of substance and things.”

In other words: Wax on, wax off.

Looking around my own house, where all the carpets are covered in a sort of dog-hair permafrost, the bed hasn’t been made in three weeks, and breakfast — if it happens at all — involves swilling a can of Slim-Fast in the car on the way to work, I have to wonder what Mrs. Eddy would say if she could see it.

Probably nothing. She’d probably just smile, hand me a bucket and a sponge, and set me to work practicing “wax on, wax off.”