I spent yesterday morning absorbed in conversation with some other moms as we watched our children chew on wood shavings and dump sand into each other’s hair. I mentioned that recently as I unloaded the dishwasher I went to put some dishes away and returned to find a baby sitting fat and happy on the dishwasher door. My companions lamented that they didn’t have dishwashers. I stayed silent, suddenly trying to remember the reason that although I have a dishwasher, I wash the dishes by hand more often than not. File this one in the bulging, “things I don’t say out loud because they’re weird” folder.
I wash my dishes by hand because I think it’s good for my soul.
If I remove myself from the anchor of good, physical work I stay too much in my head. My vocation consists in loving God through service to my family. It comes down to a simple fact of faith: we are body and soul, not separate but together. As Meg Hunter-Kilmer says, God made us out of stuff and uses stuff to reach our hearts.
And so I wash the dishes by hand. The scrubbing makes me thankful for the dishes that we have and the food that we ate and the family that I am working for. While I wash I slow down and pray. Suddenly, I am simple again. I like the smell of dish soap and watching the bubbles slide down teal or yellow ceramic, seeing a mountain of mess dwindle down to a fresh sink.
I noticed this week that I was losing control over the dish situation, leaving food to crust onto plates and roughly loading things into the dishwasher.
I cycle into the mindset that these tasks are meaningless, and let’s finish as fast as I can to get to the really important things. Like reading A Clash of Kings. Or browsing Facebook on my phone while ignoring sippy cup re-fill requests as long as possible. I can go through the motions for days until God reminds me. Again. That he is found among the pots and pans. When I forget myself and serve Him through them. I am not made to live life inside my head, but pouring myself outward in service. My children are not impediments to a clean house and completed to-do list, they are my mission.
Jesus himself cooked fish.
I love and need the reminders of the physical in my Catholic faith. My favorites are the San Damiano crucifix and the Anima Christi prayer. Can you imagine? When he died they wrapped him in linen and carried him through a garden and laid him in a tomb. He rose again in a physical body with wounded hands and feet that St. Thomas could put his finger into. It’s a truly humbling and magnificent thing!
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ’s side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever