Dishes: Choosing Between Heaven and Hell

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I hate doing dishes.  I’d rather clean bathrooms than do dishes.  I’d rather fold laundry than do dishes.  I’d rather do anything yucky or tedious than face the Goliath that is dishes spilling out of my sink.

We do not have a dishwasher.  Old house, old house problems.  But even if we did have a dishwasher, I’d still hate doing the dishes.

In high school I worked as a dishwasher/busser/food prepper at a great local seafood dive.  (Don’t ask me what my oyster-laden clothes smelled like.)  We washed all the dishes by hand except the glasses and silverware.  While I enjoyed and appreciated the job, I had my fill of dishwashing—enough for two lifetimes.

But doing the dishes makes for good prayer.

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“The ordinary activities I find most compatible with contemplation are walking, baking bread, and doing laundry,” says poet Kathleen Norris in her The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work”For myself, I must add dishes to her list.

Washing dishes takes anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes for me to do, giving me time to think about God, life, and writing.  Repetitive, mindless work stimulates my imagination.

So why do I resent it so much?

I’m not sure I know the answer why I do.   But I do know this: God loves a cheerful giver.  Taking care of duties, however mundane, are an opportunity to choose to be cheerful or to be cantankerous and annoyed.  Resenting the imposition of dirty dishes can only mean that there’s something wrong with me.

Here, I make my own Heaven or Hell (cf. C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce).  Here, I have my Adam-and-Eve moment.

Choosing God’s joy means I stop beating myself up and allow myself joy and freedom.  God lines His graces with divine laughter—do I laugh with Him?  Can I even laugh while doing the dishes?

Hate is an indicator.  Hate points to places and pieces of my life that need God’s tranformative mercy.  If I hate doing the dishes, then my doing the dishes is the means through which He wants to show me His love.

Copyright 2014, Rhonda Ortiz

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1 Comment

  1. Ironing. Is my pet peeve especially as I am expected to iron practically everything. Especially as I am a carer for my elderly father and my goody two shoes sister irons everything so I have to do the same Otherwise she bleats

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