Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Liturgy of Laundry

One of the hardest things about being a mother is the sheer monotony of the vocation. I've blogged about this before, but it bears repeating. The work that we do every day is undone almost immediately. The larger spiritual goals to which we attain are very long term and it may be decades before we see our ideals for our children come to full fruition. I far too often find myself replacing my daily responsibilities for home and hearth with lesser, more easily attainable and more apparently "productive" tasks. Even "good" things, when elevated above the Best become little more than idols. Fellowship with other moms is a good and godly desire, but leaving dirty dishes in the sink to pack my children, in their unwashed clothes, off to a playdate is probably less often a Best thing than I would like to imagine, however refreshed it might make me feel in the short term. Staying up too late reading inspirational blog posts?... ditto.

I have been helped recently by a book (it is so often a book of one sort or another, isn't it?) by Kathleen Norris, "Acedia and Me". While written from the perspective of a childless widow, and with a much deeper exploration of the topic and far more inspired applications, I have found in it a nugget that I find quite profound for the circumstances in which I find myself-- homemaker, mother-of-three, impatient servant. That is, to seek to become aware of  a Sacramental quality in my daily work. A liturgical parallel, if you will. The daily-ness, the repetition, the lack of immediate and visible result-- all those things can be said of many of the rythms and repetitions of the church's worship.

And in the same sense, my daily routines, if attended to with a reverential and sacrificial heart (in the sense that I offer them to the Lord as a sacrifice and an act of worship) becomes my Liturgy of the Hours, in a very real sense. And with this emphasis I can rightly order my goals; shifting from an expectation of Results, Product and Effect in my environment (my children are clean and well-mannered at all times, my house is spotless, my laundry stays cleaned and folded in the drawers, the weeds never regenerate, etc) to a desire to see change in myself-- in my attitudes, affections, endurance and perseverance, as well as a deepening relationship with Christ. This shift in perspective, in expectations, will I think cause me to be less impatient towards, less critical of, less dissatisfied with my children and husband. I will be concentrating more on the log in my own eye and less on the specks in theirs.

1 Timothy 2:15
Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

linking up...


somerwill said...

When I googled acedia and Kathleen Norris, I found some awesome websites on Christian spiritual formation,, being one of them. The richness of the heritage of early church teachings! You just don't hear much preaching about sin any more, or much less, how to conquer it in your life. The early church was much more focused on building up the church by building strong souls, clean consciences, and pure hearts. Opens up a longing for that kind of honest fellowship. (James 5:16)

Gramoni said...

The above comment is mine, Lis. Didn't know Will had his account signed in when I posted it.

Haley @ Carrots for Michaelmas said...

I loved this post. I've read Cloister Walk by Norris (didn't love it) but really enjoyed an essay "Liturgy, Laundry, and 'Women's Work'" I think it was called. I am definitely still learning to view motherhood as my spiritual vocation, a path to holiness and Christ-likeness. Such a good reminder! Thank you.