Think about all of the times we approach a sink or other water/cleaning source. The source could be anywhere: kitchen, bathrooms, outside faucets, public or private. When we approach a cleaning source, we go there because we know that we need to rinse, remove, restore, revive, refresh, renew. The circumstances and actual actions will vary, perhaps wildly, from one approach to another. Regardless, it seems to me that each approach represents a need, and each washing need is both separative and restorative.
We might think of the washroom metaphor as one way of representing our needs in life. When we become aware of a need, consciously or unconsciously we begin looking for help. That help sometimes means removing something: a physical pain, an emotional burden, a relational conflict. That help sometimes means restoring something: physical health, a sense of personal equilibrium, a reunion of a love lost. It becomes fairly obvious that these needs that need something taken away and something restored often come together. In other words, while our needs may show up in our own minds as a burden to be removed, or as something that needs to be restored, they usually are both. The sense of separation and the sense of restoration are flip sides of the same coin, two perceptions of the same experience.
Recently, I came in from some serious weeding in one of our flower beds. In the process of pulling weeds and redistributing mulch, I came across a small bundle of poison oak. Over the years, I have become fairly allergic to poison oak. I knew, once I saw it, that I would have to go straight from the garden to the shower. I NEEDED to make sure that the oil from the poison oak leaves was completely removed from my body, especially my hands and arms which were most likely exposed, and then my face which I had touched several times with the side of my arm to wipe away sweat. I also NEEDED to be able to use my hands to prepare and eat lunch. One shower, one trip to the washroom to rid myself of something and to restore something to myself.
When you look around your life and become aware of needs, which “washrooms” do you go to? What do you seek to be relieved of? What do you hope will be restored to you?