What Housework is Really About

They are two at the sink, in mama-stitched aprons, with the next basket of potatoes brought in from the garage, brought in from the garden, brought in from the long ago summer.

And I laugh at the counter, laugh happy at this brother and sister scrubbing up spuds like long ago Brother Lawrence.

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Like thatBrother Lawrence who stood in a kitchen and said over his own spuds,

The time of work does not with me differ from the time of prayer.

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 a tranquility as if I were upon my knees…”

This kitchen clatters and these children call all at the same time, all for different things, and true saints don’t seek God only in still cells, but commune with Him in the clatter and the kids calling — this is their calling.

Malakai tells Shalom he needs more water and she dangles off the edge of the sink to reach the faucet. He drops potatoes into water, splashes dirty water over the counters. The washing machine groans. I have an Everest to fold, put away. Someone’s dumped the basket of crayons all over the floor.

Science may call it entropy, the second law of thermodynamics — nature slipping from order to disorder. But really, it’s this: the first law of motherdynamics — the clean always slips to chaos.

And this is the doing: to keep ordering, washing away, sweeping clean, working it all back to the Perfect Time Before, before the Fall… beating back the chaos, the powers of destruction.

Simple acts of cleaning are my humble, conquering efforts in the quotidian struggle between chaos and order, creation and disintegration, God and Death.

Is this housework a picture of entering into Redemption? To bring restoration to that which has fallen… This housework, this kitchen work, a picture of prayer? To bring the ordinary life to the Omnipotent God…. Where else do we meet God if not in the everyday work?

Housework is really being about the work of God — praying, serving, praising. And in these domestic chapels, God, The Very Person of Peace, offers Himself to the congregants.

Shalom looks up at me, her sleeves rolled up and dripping wet and she smiles, “Isn’t this good, Mama?”

I smile. “Yes, so good, Shalom.” I reach for a dishcloth to wipe off the counter. “Here is so good.

We stand at the sink together scrubbing up the potatoes.

Us all standing in shafts of chapel light.

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“To lift up the hands in prayer gives God glory,
but a man with a dungfork in his hand,
a woman with a slop pail,
give Him glory
too.

God is so great that all things give Him glory if you mean that they should.”

~Ignatius Loyola

Further encouragement:
Peace is a Person
The Year of Here

Related posts:

Comments

  1. says

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  2. Amber says

    This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I am struggling a bit with housework and this was very encouraging.

  3. says

    This is awesome!
    Confirmation!
    Today I decided to “bless my house” I walked through every room(even the barroom) prayed over every wall, chair, bed, door frame. Asking God to bless our home, with HIM! Using every room for HIS glory. Then of course for many, today for ME, that little thought…I should pray for a bigger house..so simple..that thought, not ours but HIS..take care of THIS home, use it for MY(God’s) glory…use this and I will provide for when you need more(a larger home). Do our work(chores..laundry, dishes, taking out the trash ect.) for HIM. We would clean our house like crazy if Jesus was coming to dinner. I can’t see a person complaining. How excited..to do those things to prepare for HIM! But where is that enthusiasm when we clean? When I clean. Today while praying for my home I had a revelation God wants to bless us, NOW..but He needs to prepare us. Take care of what we have now, prepare ourselves. Or as the saying goes..enjoy where we are, on the way to where we are going!

  4. Lisa Frost says

    I am in the midst of planning a retreat in Northern Ireland for a group of lovely women. and I will be using Kathleen Norris’s book, “The Quotidian Mysteries”. This blog speaks to this so well- the ordinary and daily work we do with family and friends and even ourselves in concert with God.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] It always makes me feel a little better when I find that I am not the only one who struggles with house work.  Not just the work but my attitude while doing it.  Ann Voskamp wrote a beautiful post about how even the most mundane tasks can become acts of praise.  If you need to find beauty and purpose in keeping house take a minute to read “What Housework is Really About.” [...]

  2. [...] Many of you are reading along with us in the book 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha Home in a Mary Way. If you aren’t already, there is certainly plenty of space to jump in right now, right where you are. This blog by Ann Voskamp speaks to the fear that haunts the heart of most mothers, “maybe what we are doing isn’t enough.”  If  you’ve felt this you need to know that family care is one of God’s highest callings, and Ann speaks to us here, What housework is really about. [...]

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