Thursday, September 2, 2010

Doing The Dishes

Today was one of those rare days when I actually had the house to myself.
My son started back to college and my husband was out in Brooklyn an apartment of a newly evicted tenant.
I decided it would be a great day to work on cleaning the kitchen,lets face it its tough to really clean when everyone is home getting in and out of things,messing as quickly as your cleaning.
The first thing I needed to do was shut off the tv and put on my ipod.
I played some of my meditative John Michael Talbot music and started with the dishes.
As I listened to the music I decided to try and do what the Asian monks,and for that fact,what spiritual christian people do and that is to pay attention to the task at hand and really be in the moment.
I have an Aunt who would tell me she loved to do the dishes and I must admit as a child, who didn't enjoy playing in warm soapy water.But as I have aged the fun of doing dishes left me about 30 years ago and since then it has become a job not an adventure.
Today would be different,it was time to try the theories of the East,lets face it all those monks couldn't be wrong,Right?
I filled the dish pan with hot lavender smelling soapy water and tried to feel the warmth around me,the bubbles on my hands and wrist.
The firm yet slipperiness of each plate and glass,the cool water used to rinse them and the sight of the soap slowly running down the drain.
I attempted to focus on each item,how it felt,both dirty and clean,and making sure each piece,be it great or small,got my undivided attention,as if it were some expensive,yet fragile,heirloom.Making sure the inside and out side not only sparkled but shined.
With the word clean in my thoughts my mind turned to Jesus scolding the Pharisees for white washing the out side of the tombs but the inside being filled with" rotting dead mens bones".
"You fools" he said,"you wash the outside of the cup but the inside is unclean".
Some where I remember reading that if you do all things right to the smallest detail,not begrudging it, but instead enjoying it and fully become a part of the task you will begin to understand how large the picture is when you are done.
Small things equal greatness.
Before I knew it the task was done,even the parts I dreaded most,like scrubbing the pans where finished.
Everything looked clean and shiny and the thought of moving on to tackle the rest of the kitchen,did not seem so large.
From this experience I have decided,in the next few weeks to daily take a small project and try to put self conscious thought into it,even if it is only a 5 minute task.
I think religous life is like this,the greater spiritual steps are gained when done in smaller more precise amounts.
Those who try to overachieve do not always gain in wisdom.
Last night while reading the bible I came across the story of Martha and Mary.
It seems Jesus came to visit and Martha was very concerned about making things right by cooking and cleaning.She became very annoyed with Mary who sat down at Jesus feet and listened to him.
Martha told Jesus,basically,to tell Mary to help her set things up instead of just listening to him speak.
Jesus replied "Martha,Martha you are worried and troubled about many thing.But one thing is needed,and Mary has chosen that good part,which will not be taken away from her."(Luke 10:41-42)
It struck me that what Jesus was saying was you can do lots of manual things in a hurry for your church,your neighbors or yourself but if you are not listening to God first you are probably not doing them for the right reason so your missing the point.
You can not listen to God if you do not slow down enough to hear his voice.
Do all things with love even the very small things.

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