Reading time has been minimal the past few weeks. Last night I put my literary foot down and said, “Enough!” Enough of all the internet’s distractions, enough of laundry and lesson planning. The little sick boy and I were going to snuggle up with a good book before bed. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley did not disappoint.
Mr. Mifflin’s is sharing his thoughts on dishwashing with a guest. He speaks of how he use to have a light handy and a book propped up to console him as he washed dishes. It was a worrisome task, you know. But then….
Then a new conception of the matter struck me. It is intolerable for a human being to go on doing any task as a penance, under duress. No matter what the work is, one must spiritualize it in some way, shatter the old idea of it into bits and rebuild it nearer to the heart’s desire. How was I to do this with dish-washing?
A couple of paragraphs later –
“Mr. Gilbert,” he went on, “do not laugh at me when I tell you that I have evolved a whole kitchen philosophy of my own. I find the kitchen the shrine of our civilization, the focus of all that is comely in life. The ruddy shine of the stove is as beautiful as any sunset. A well-polished jug or spoon is as fair, as complete and beautiful, as any sonnet. The dish mop, properly rinsed and wrung and hung outside the back door to dry, is a whole sermon in itself. The stars never look so bright as they do from the kitchen door after the ice-box pan is emptied and the whole place is ‘redd up’ as the Scotch say.”
I read this and I smiled. I might have a child or two who props up a book to read as they work. More than once song sheets have been taped to the window at the sink so that the correct words could be sung while working. Makes the task a bit more pleasant, yes? And I do love a clean kitchen!
This scripture also came to mind:
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ.”
This was a timely reminder to me. It can get a bit tedious or mundane: the laundry, the potty training, the math corrections, the sweeping. It can be looked upon as an intolerable task. A burden. A chore. Or perhaps we can push aside the attempts to distract us from the task at hand and embrace the tedious and mundane. And realize that those things, those chores, are really as beautiful as a sunset and worthy of our best. Who are we doing these things for? Do it heartily as to the Lord.