Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Glory of Chores

Sigh. My life would be so much better without housework or yard maintenance or errands. Yes? No. Washing, straightening, or grocery shopping keeps the rest of life in balance and enables me to live in clean spaces, wear laundered clothes, open the refrigerator and find food. Such work is a fact of life.

I find myself rushing through it, though. There's a sense that I'm wasting my time and should get on to the next thing, or perhaps hire a housecleaner, yard person, someone else to do these tasks because they're unimportant. Which leads me to ask: what is important?

My life is not about accomplishing what I think I need to accomplish. That is merely a path to constant frustration and interruption. True, I have goals and dreams and projects and intentions. But in the big picture, I must remember, my true life is "hidden with God," and it's not about doing. That includes big doings, like working on my book or teaching a class, and small doings, like making my bed. When I look at it this way, I see the importance of a task isn't all that important!

In other words, inhabiting each moment wherever I am, is my true purpose. Whether I'm mowing the lawn* or peeling carrots or giving a poetry reading. Am I walking in love and grace? Now that's important. My life is a being, and I'm trying to remember that while doing chores. Breathing. Thinking good thoughts. Being fully present instead of rushing to get to the "real" purpose of my life.

When I remember to inhabit the moments of trivial tasks, they become wonderful. Magical even. Ordinary things are seeds of blessing.

A couple of writers from Wildfire Writing's Uptown class have created some poems about doing chores. So...

Is there a menial task you can infuse with a sense of purpose, rather than rushing through?

*Last month I mowed the lawn for the first time in my entire life. Golly. I don't know whether to be proud or embarrassed. I was ready to jump in again and do it the next week, but my husband insisted on taking over. When I did get a chance to mow again, I found out the secret reason why he's always done it: it's a pleasure. Scent of green grass. Rumble of motor. The sharp stripe of short grass unrolling at your feet . . .

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