Sacred in the Ordinary
I’m finally done my chores, and now I can sit back, relax, read, write, or do nothing at all. I’m done folding the laundry, doing the dishes, cleaning the kitchen floor, I still need to take the trash out, but that can wait till tonight.
I never thought I’d say this, but I actually enjoy doing the dishes these days. Standing at the kitchen sink, looking over the geranium plant, out into the infinite blue sky, fluffy grey clouds, thousands of tiny black birds noisily flying across, it’s always a different scene – alive and flowing. The water from the faucet, a steady stream, warm and soothing on my hands, I wash the dishes at a slow pace, no rush, no hurry.
There’s something about the monotony of these chores that is somehow soothing. Picking up a piece of clothing from the laundry basket, folding it, and putting it on top of the pile of folded ones, then reaching for the next one, fold, set aside, then the next one, and the next one, and so on. Just like putting my attention on breathing during meditation, I’m pouring all my attention into this one movement – reaching, folding, putting it aside, reaching, folding, putting it aside.
Or when I’m sweeping the floor, starting at one corner and ending up at the other, gathering dust along the way, the same motion rhythmically repeating, over and over again, until I end up with a clean floor. It reminds me of the monks raking the stones in a Zen rock garden, the monk’s complete concentration on the one movement, starting at the center and repeating it again and again until he reaches the outer edge, and a crisply raked garden.
The monotony is soothing, and the process very satisfying, but it’s also satisfying to see a clean kitchen floor at the end of the process, a neat pile of folded laundry, or a clean, empty kitchen sink.
I try not to groan about my chores anymore but wait for when I get time to do them slowly and peacefully.
“Have always some work to do, and do it well that you will get joy.”
― Sathya Sai Baba, Sathya Sai Speaks: Discourses of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Delivered During 1970