For all my striving toward whatever mysteries lie in the every day; for all my desperate hope to find a place to serve or the work that is mine; I have to say that, yesterday, I was struck with the very real, very clear certainty, while scrubbing my tub with Borax, that it was worship.
What is the toiling motion, scrubbing until your hands are raw, if not worship? What is choosing the cleaners to use and working them down into the cracks so they do their job, if not worship? What is the choice to care for a cornerstone of the home, a luxury we call a necessity, if not worship?
It's a funny spot in adulthood, motherhood specifically, when you realize the pride you take listing your accomplishments for the day. "Oh yeah, I got the bathroom clean and did all the laundry before school was out, can you believe it?" Honestly, I know many women (and include myself in this group), who use the mundane tasks of housekeeping in the name of something else. Like when you're mad at your husband and so you scrub the kitchen counters with aggression instead of calming down to talk about it. Or when you scurry about before bedtime, straightening the books and the blankets and placing everything just so, because that is how you control life. Or when it's flu season, and you spend hours disinfecting everything because you've no other remedial solutions for the sniffling children.
What I realized is, cleaning the house in any name other than worship is really just a distraction. It takes my attention away from healthy relationship; or surrendering to the mess of life; or being a present, attentive caregiver.
But worship looks like waking up on Monday morning, trying to shake off the weekend, making a list of things to do because this is the moment to do them. Monday, October 9, like many other Mondays at this stage of my life, was a day for scrubbing the bathroom and folding the laundry. That was where I was called that day, and it was well with my soul. While I flitted about in rubber gloves, I thought, very seriously, the things we almost never remember to think: "Thank you for a roof over our heads--a house to clean at all!" "Thank you for a body that can bend to wipe this toilet!" "Thank you for the ability and the opportunity to keep my family happy and healthy!"
And this gratitude grew up in me the desire to do chores with excellence, not because I was playing martyr, and not because I felt I needed to control, and not because I was afraid of falling idle. It was born from a curiosity, really. A word spoken from the stage on Sunday. A call to the divine hidden in the every day. An invitation to seek after it on a Monday when all there was to do was keep house.
To be honest, it didn't take much searching at all. It was just a little change of heart. A decidedly different approach. A present consciousness that declared all as holy, that holy cannot be formulated or fabricated because Holy has always been. So to find Holy, I can be.
And clean. Cleanliness isn't next to godliness, because God is there in the act. Just like He is everywhere else, in everything else. I can find the mysteries in the corners of my bathroom as much as I can from a church pew on Sunday. Perhaps even more so in the everyday.