When the priest does the dishes
"[Christ is most present] "not during my hours of prayer...but rather in the midst of my daily occupations." ~Therese of Lisieux*
The ordinary. If you haven't already sat and considered what the word/concept of "ordinary" means to you - feel free to go back to this post. Our humanity predisposes us to come into things with biases and propensities and as we continue to consider "ordinary," it's important for you to know how you are relating to it. Do you long for more ordinary, routine? Or are you bored with the ordinary and long for something more or different?
Kathleen Norris, in her book The Quotidian Mysteries,* speaks of attending a Catholic wedding in the early 1970s. She felt disoriented, yet curious, about all the rituals and symbols, the liturgy being fairly unfamiliar to her having been exposed more to Protestant services in her growing up years. But after the time of communion - after this amazing space of remembering and partaking in the body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins - she was most struck by the fact that the priest "did the dishes." She writes:
"I found it remarkable-and still find it remarkable - that in that big, fancy church, after all of the dress-up and formalities of the wedding mass, homage was being paid to the lowly truth that we human beings must wash the dishes after we eat and drink. The chalice, which had held the very blood of Christ, was no exception. And I found it enormously comforting to see the priest as a kind of daft housewife, overdressed for the kitchen, in bulky robes, puttering about the altar, washing up having served so great a meal to so many people...it welcomed me, a stranger..." (3).
It was not in the creeds, the singing of hymns, the reciting of confessions where she connected to God, as beautiful and inspiring as all those things are. It was in the simple "washing of dishes" by the priest, where she felt a tug on her heart toward the "something more" of life and living. It was in an ordinary moment that she could relate and in which she felt "welcomed."
Doing the dishes: it is something that almost every adult, in any culture around the world which utilizes some sort of utensil or container to cook and hold food, does every single day and sometimes multiple times a day. Though the means might be different, all of humankind participates in this daily, ordinary "ritual." Whether it be Latvia, India, China, Japan, Slovenia, or Israel, this has been true of every country in which I've been a guest.
Do you long for Christ to be present in the midst of your day? The liturgical season of Ordinary time is designed to help you and I begin to find holiness in the ordinary, the mundane, the physical and tangible.
Throughout the day:
Today as you wash a dish or utensil, or even rinse them to put them in the dishwasher, call to mind that God is with you always. As the water runs over the dish and even your hands, ask for the streams of Living Water to wash over your own heart and life. Take a moment at the end of your task to breathe deeply as an intentional act to say, "I am breathing you in, God, in this ordinary moment."
Wash, rinse, repeat...
* page 14 in Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris (see link below)