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