“My life will always have dirty dishes. If this sink can become a place of contemplation, let me learn constancy here.” — Gunilla Norris

the messy reality

Dirty dishes pile up on the worktop and hob and my heart sinks. Though I’m grateful for the food we’ve just eaten, I don’t always relish the messy aftermath.

The dried-on food that congeals on cutlery and plates. The encrusted saucepans. The marked hob. The mottled glasses and stained cups. The piled up dirty debris of it all. Sigh…

But here’s the deal I’ve made since moving house, since my husband’s health has deteriorated from what it was and I’ve needed to step up to help:

Shopping, cooking, and heavy housework, are his remit, while I sort laundry. And in the absence of a dishwasher, when I can manage it, I do the majority of the washing up.

I try to tackle it most days because he’s exhausted by the effort of preparing and cooking our meals. If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this mundane domestic info with you, here’s the reason.

the surprising gift of mundane tasks

Because I’m learning to approach what can often seem like thankless, mindless daily tasks with holy deliberation and sacred mindfulness.

I could grumble because I have to do the dishes and it’s such a chore, or I can switch to thinking I get to do the dishes as a gift for my beloved who has Parkinson’s Disease.

In return, I have a golden opportunity to serve as I watch leaves dancing on the nearby trees and listen to exultant evening birdsong while the soapy water swirls.

I also gain the pleasure of contemplation as I observe nature outside the kitchen window.

I get to participate in the care of our home, and have the satisfaction of cleaner dishes afterwards. For someone like me, with M.E and decades of debilitating chronic illness, that’s a big accomplishment.

how doing dishes feeds my soul

Doing the dishes frees my thoughts and feeds my soul, as I spend a few minutes immersed in suds and gratitude, especially when I’ve started out weary or resentful.

We receive a great gift of calm and peace when we soak in God’s presence even for just a few minutes.

Yes, I tire easily, my painful legs protest, and my arthritic hands ache with the effort, yet the rewards still outweigh the difficulties I experience with standing longer than is comfortable for me.

It’s an act of faith to believe God will supply sufficient grace and strength in my weakness, time and time again. And He does.

“He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak.” — Isaiah 40:29 TLB

chores as divine encounters

Doing the dishes has become a sacred duty because God willingly meets with me, with all of us, in fact, during our mundane moments, our often thankless tasks.

Doing mundane, routine tasks, whether we welcome them or not, can translate into thoughtful divine encounter moments communing with God.

That’s worth remembering next time you cook a meal, clean a room, tackle laundry, do the dishes or make the bed. Let your soul be lifted and remain alert as you listen for God’s whispers and footsteps in your midst.

“The time of business does not differ with me 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 tranquillity as if I were on my knees.” — Brother Lawrence