Ugh, housework. Dealing with the same issues over and over again. Overflowing trash cans, mildewy showers, food crusted dishes – none of these things can have good spiritual correspondences, I’m sure. But dealing with them sure can! I was particularly struck the other day, as I stood at the kitchen sink scrubbing away, how like housework regeneration can be.
For one thing, it’s repetitive. It never ends. After all we can be perfected to eternity, right? And those dishes, clothes, and floors will forever need done (at least in this world). However, as we grow we can develop systems and habits that help make things easier. The work never ends but we can get more efficient at it. And we can learn not to let things pile up so much!
Another thing that struck me is that it’s our attitude towards the process that’s the key. If we feel helpless, overwhelmed, and stuck we’re not going to make much progress on either front. Yet, if we break it down into steps and paste a smile on our face and get down to it, it can feel surprisingly easy and even enjoyable.
Something else they have in common is the peace that enfolds us when the work is done (for the time being). Is there greater satisfaction than sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book while surveying a spotless vista? Is there anything more blessed than the period of rest that comes on that seventh day, after spiritual temptation and strife become dormant? (Is this why Mondays are so painful?)
And sometimes we just need to ask for some help. A good friend of mine came over to offer moral support while I organized our family’s toys. We also had a great visit about the joys and struggles of parenting, marriage, and trusting in Divine Providence. My mom, Jane, comes down a couple times a year to visit and she whips the house into shape and offers great insight into my own personal hereditary evils while she’s cleaning. And sometimes I just need to hire someone to watch the kids so I can really focus without distraction. I clean for 45 mins, read the Word and meditate for 10, and then clean another half or so before I go pick them up.
Which leads me to my final thought that there’s no surer way to force either issue than to have children!