Thursday, September 9, 2010

"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 after having served so great a meal to so many people."
~Kathleen Norris

My copy of The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and "Women's Work" arrived this morning, and I instantly fell into it. Early in the little book, Norris describes her first Catholic Mass, and the feeling of comfort and welcome she felt seeing the priest "putter about the altar" in the process of washing up. It brought to the Mass a sense of the daily-life and in turn, it can bring to the daily some of the sacredness of the Liturgy.

I am often, like the priest, "overdressed for the kitchen." In fact, I like to be. I like my skirts to be silk and layered, I like my aprons to be bright, and my eyes to be dark and painted. Even out in our hidden land, I love to wash-up in my silk robe, with earrings in and toes bright red.

There are so many chores that we bring with us from day to day, they never end, and no one, in or out of the city can escape them entirely. These daily tasks, our home rituals, can be burdens or, like little liturgies, they can raise us up.

I both love and loathe doing my dishes. The actually doing is lovely. I enjoy making things clean, feeling like a little god, who scubs and makes new the small things - not souls but soup-bowls. I love seeing the dirt washed away. But the preperation, which in our home is more than usual: collecting the water - either from the rain barrel or from the stream, - warming it, and setting up my little "sink" can be daunting, especially if I'd rather do other things, but reading Norris reminds me that the daily tasks are the stuff rituals are made of, and even in Liturgy, these rituals can't be ignored.

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