Up To My Elbows

by

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Our dishwasher can be a bit finicky. There are seasons it works just fine, seasons it doesn’t work at all, and seasons it tends to melt the now-clean plastic dishes on the upper-rack. Right now, we’re in a season of having it not work at all and it’s just simply not a budgeted priority for us to fix or replace it at this time. So, hand-washing, here we are!

Hand-washing our dishes, when I’m very used to flying through quick loading and unloading, is showing me so much about myself, especially about issues I have with impatience. It is a task that stands absolutely against the inner-rush I usually feel about my homemaking. It laughs in the face of the much-prized multitasking badge worn by women everywhere! It forces me to slow down! And I’ve actually realized that not only do I not mind it…I actually often enjoy the 20-30 minutes standing there up to my elbows in soapy water.

The time required is a wonderful opportunity to be purposefully slow…after all, I don’t want to break my now-clean dishes. I can have a few moments to reflect on the day so far…if it’s the morning, to think about and pray over what needs to be accomplished this day. If it’s the afternoon, to ask God to help me with a grumpy attitude. After dinner, it’s a time to breathe and reflect: how did I treat my family today?

My favorite addition to this time is to prop open my copy of Thomas A Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ. The one or two pages I can see on my windowsill are meaty enough to last me that whole time without even a need to turn the page! (And since I tend to be a speed-reader, this is yet another opportunity to slow things down!) It’s definitely helpful in the opportunity for insightful reflection while I stand there washing.

Very soon on my list of “want to read” is Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God. I remember my favorite story about him as the sink fills with water – that his assigned task in the monastery was dish-duty. Yet, that’s when he found he was able to get a wonderful sense of the real Presence of God, despite such a so-called menial task.

God is glorious and does glorious things. But He is also in the simple things, the simple tasks.

He can be found everywhere, but it’s usually easier to find Him and sense His Presence when our pace is slower rather than faster. And speaking of needing to wash some dishes…here I go!