Blessings in the mundane

January 8, 2014

I was thinking about all the things I need to do every day just to maintain my life, things such as . . .

take a shower and get dressed, make my bed, take my vitamins, feed the cat, clean the litter box, put a load of laundry in, start dinner, do the dishes

. . . and that's just in the morning for starters. Then there's the necessary household chores of vacuuming and dusting and sweeping and grocery shopping and ironing. Taking out the garbage, getting the mail, paying bills, scheduling and going to doctor's appointments, tanking up the car. Cleaning the bathroom, answering emails, changing the beds. Don't you just get tired reading that list? And all this is just maintenance. How much time is left to Do Life? You know, the important stuff? The stuff we were put here to do? The stuff that will last? And what about extra time to be creative, to read and write and knit?

And then I have to stop and remind myself again, preach it to myself again, that the small daily routines that seem to take up so much time, that seem to eat away the time needed for the Important Things, these small routines are life. They aren't what we do in a hurry on our way to something better.

How many times have I been doing dishes in a hurry, irritated because there's something else I want to get to? How many times do I feel like all of these chores are to be gotten out of the way as fast as possible, a necessary evil? Yes, of course, we must be organized and have a plan, so that we do have time to visit with a hurting friend or make a meal for a new mother or do something creative, like write or paint. We don't want our daily tasks to consume all our time. But,
we also don't want to despise this important work. 

They do, after all, make up the essential rhythm of life. Clean, folded laundry and homemade meals are a comfort both to ourselves and to our loved ones. A beautifully laid table with our best china and linens elevates an ordinary meal. Tea brought to a loved one in a china cup, with perhaps a homemade cookie on the side, is a kind and loving gesture.

Our daily, routine work of maintaining can provide a wonderful opportunity for creativity and imagination. One of my favorite books is Edith's Schaeffer's The Hidden Art of Homemaking, in which she explains this very concept of elevating our ordinary tasks into works of art.

A Christian, who realizes he has been made in the image of the Creator God and is therefore meant to be creative on a finite level, should certainly have more understanding of his responsibility to treat God's creation with sensitivity, and should develop his talents to do something to beautify his little spot on the earth's surface.

and this . . . 

I am sure that there is no place in the world where your message would not be enhanced by your making the place (whether tiny or large, a hut or a palace) orderly, artistic and beautiful with some form of creativity, some form of ‘art’.

 Not only can we be thinking about how we can perform our ordinary tasks in creative, beautiful ways, but we can consider what we think about while we're doing them. Are we filled with irritation and hurry? Are we only thinking about the next thing that needs to be done? We have a choice. We can quiet our busy hearts and minds and be still inside, even as we are going about our ordinary day. We can be thinking beautiful thoughts or planning something creative. Agatha Christie apparently got her best inspiration for her famous detective stories when she was doing the dishes.

But perhaps one of the best examples of a person who redeemed the ordinary time, and even made it sacred and holy, was the 17th century monk Brother Lawrence, who worked in a monastery kitchen. In his book, The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence tells how he spent his time praying and communing with God while washing pots and pans.

The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees before the Blessed Sacrament.

I have lots to do today. It's still bitter cold, only 1 F out there, but "warmer" than it has been and it's time to get some more groceries. Laundry needs to be done. Christmas decorations still need to be taken down (I really drag my feet on that one). I will try and take my own advice today -- smile.


  1. So true. Once I stopped fighting the frustration of doing dishes over and over again, it became my favorite time to talk to God. So many times, it's our frustrations and expectations that get in the way of a meaningful, enjoyable walk with the Lord, daily. In the mundane. This is something God has been working on me about lately. It's nice to see others on the same track.

    1. Yes, just breathe deeply, and say, this is good . . .

  2. Thanks so much for your visit over the Holidays and for your kind comment!!


    1. I have to admit I never commented much on blogs until I had one of my own, and now know how very much it's appreciated.


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