"Come, O blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world;
for I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you visited me. . .
Truly, I say to you,
as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren,
you did it to Me”
~ Jesus, Matthew 25:34-40
End of day slides through the windows on golden limbs and drops rainbows on walls and floor that creep silently around the room. i stretch, tired and think of pots and pans and dinner plates lining the counters. i have begun a discipline of late, inspired by sweet books i am reading by Alice Peck, finding the sacred in housekeeping, and another by Margaret Kim Peters, the litany of everyday life.
It is a chore I usually flee from, this cleaning up after dinner, claiming my right as maker of the meal to leave the dishes for the others. They flee, too, this family of mine. It is up to me to call them back.
Recalling the words I had read recently, I surveyed the stainless steel and china chipped chaos. To this I can bring order and beauty and restore the sacred.
It helps being mindful, conscious of the rattling tones of drama coming from the family room TV, the sunlight and rainbows, the gift of grace in having a home and food to eat, and husband unrolled like a long limbed mountain cat in his big chair.
For me, every night, he will do the dishes and put the kitchen to bed, but as a man would: the strainer needing a wash, crumbs hiding behind the glass of flour and sugar, washed pans sitting on the eyes of the stove, proper place to store them to his mind. What hand formed this man who will say to me after a twelve-hour shift, “You cook for me. It’s the least I can do.” The least? After what he has done all day in heavy workboots on calloused feet for me?
I am mindful, now, as I go quietly into the kitchen so that he will not hear me, of the shopping and choosing and planning that brought the golden raisins and chicken breast into our home, the afternoon making stock and freezing it, as now I wipe up the grains and pack away the burnished chicken legs from the leftover herbed chicken and rice pilaf. I am mindful of the gifts of pistoulet and fiesta ware, the soapy wand with new scrubber, and slowly the stove top glistens, the counters gleam, the stainless steal of the sink shines, the dishwasher hums, and the sharp wine of small kitchen vac removes the last traces of a swept floor.
“I was going to do that for you,” he says from the red chair, his long, muscled arms draped with deep fatigue over the back and sides of the upholstery. He lifts shadowed eyes to my face, as I kiss the thick hair that drapes over his broad brow.
“I love you,” I whisper.
“There is a tendency, I think,
on the part of those of us who are well-fed, clothed, and housed
to imagine that the needy people to whom Jesus refers in Matthew 25
are people we don’t know—
the sort of people who are served at homeless shelters and soup kitchens, at which we ought therefore to volunteer at least occasionally.
But housework is [also] all about feeding and clothing and sheltering people who, in the absence of that daily work,
would otherwise be hungry and ill-clad and ill-housed”
~ Margaret Kim Peterson, Keeping House
There is “real beauty and divine truth amid our regular chores. . . .
the process of cleaning brings depth and meaning to our lives
and reveals the sacred in everyday.”
~ Alice Peck, Next to Godliness