There are not a lot of books that we come across that talk about Buddhism. I was instantly intrigued by The Sweeper, a new book written and illustrated by Rebecca Hazel, that illustrates the importance of mindfulness.
Inspired by Buddhist tradition, this original story tells how Padme, a young servant girl, meets the Buddha as she is sweeping her master’s house. When she laments that she is so busy that she would never have time to meditate, the Buddha gives her the instruction to “sweep and clean.” This simple mindfulness practice transforms Padme’s life, and when she encounters the Buddha many years later, he teaches her how to send compassion out to others.
Mindfulness is an exceptionally important concept for children and adults alike. It is the practice of focusing on what is going on with you in the present moment rather than letting your mind wander to the past or the future. We are living in such a fast-paced world that it is very easy to get wrapped up in the responsibilities that we all face and to never allow the mind time to just be. Just sitting in the quiet and taking in the beauty around you is a pastime that we seem to have given up. Whether homework, housework, rushing to the next activity, or the constant media coming at us, being mindful is something that is getting harder and harder.
The Sweeper tries to show people how they can get more joy from their lives if they allow themselves to be fully present. Padme felt that she was always being criticized for not doing a good enough job of sweeping her masters’ home. She was glad to have a job and home, but she felt empty, yearning for an unnamed greatness. When the Buddha comes to visit, he explains how meditation could help us train our minds to see and accept our truths. Since Padme felt she never had a moment to rest, she felt that she could never find a way to meditate, but this is where the Buddha truly helped her. He found a way for her to be more present in her work and to allow her sweeping to be her meditation.
I think that this book is a wonderful way to get people thinking about being “in the moment.” While we might not all take the time out of our day to practice yoga or sit and meditate, turning off our technology, taking the time to listen to one another, and appreciating the beauty of all that surrounds us is a truly beautiful way to live. Additionally, there are many around us who quietly practice Buddhism and finding a book that honors their practice is a great addition to a diverse library.
** Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to review a digital copy of this book. All opinions are my own.