Coffee Rituals

Yesterday, I read Kathleen Norris’s essay The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and Women’s Work. I had no idea when I started reading how apt it would be for my mood these days. It was actually a gift for someone else (someone who I think may not mind that I read it first), but as it has been on my list for a while I couldn’t help starting in on it as soon as it arrived. It’s a short work (approx. 100 pages) and a fast read. And just what I needed to hear.

As a homemaker, there are things about life that tend to repeat themselves day after day: dirty laundry, dirty floors, dirty dishes. This is a dirty world we live in. The day in and day out drudgery of repetitive housework can become quite a downer, if you let it. Norris, in her poetic and timely words, expresses the alternative to the spiritual ennui that may attend these quotidian duties. Allowing these rituals to be sanctified and sanctifying is God’s intent for our days. Getting up every morning to change diapers, prepare breakfast, feed the dog, take out the trash — these tasks are, at their root, God’s work. Just as much as the priestly ritual of serving communion. The mystery is that He is using these daily rituals to transform not only us, but this entire world. Not to go too Postmillenial on you, but I firmly believe that my next load of laundry brings us one step closer to the new heavens and the new earth. Makes quite a different picture of the day when you think of it that way.

And yet, it is still so easy to forget. In the midst of the bedmaking and dishwashing, it is easy to go numb, let your mind go blank — or worse, consider the endless to-do list yet to be accomplished. Norris, and indeed Christ, invites us to commune with God during these times. To let the task become a meditation on His faithfulness: that even as the snow and ice covered world outside my kitchen window appears to be hopelessly lost to cold weather, there is yet a springtime revival in sight. Hope is not lost, if only the dishes might be clean once more and returned to their cupboard for the next day’s cleaning. And we are reminded that in His kingdom we shall be clean, once for all — because Christ’s sacrifice was once for all.

So, as I drink my first cup of coffee this morning (a daily ritual since college), I am encouraged to begin anew, just as He has chosen to give us a new day to begin. And I can say with Jeremiah:

“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

In providential correlation with reading The Quotidian Mysteries, I have also happened upon this blog series regarding the importance of the Levitical woman: A very interesting read and so relevant to the conversation that Norris has begun in my head!

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