When tail lights started lighting up in front of my car and traffic came to a stand still, I got annoyed.  “STOP GAWKING, and GET MOVING!”  I said, to no one. It  had been one of those- “re-entry”  days.  You know, when you’re catapulted from the fun of vacation back into the orbit of your life and things get heated up, FAST.  Friction + speed (always) = HEAT.  My heat just happened to be in the form of attitude.

My husband had left for a quick business trip- and before he had landed at his destination, we’d already blown a fuse (of course the one with the freezer and camper- which I was TRYING to clean out at the time..) and had several games of  “How many neighbor kids can my kid bring in the house” claiming “rain” because someone had spit into the wind.

When traffic had slowed to a stand still then crawl, I had escaped the heat and the kids by declaring an emergency trip to the grocery store. (A mom’s way of spitting into the wind and claiming rain, I suppose…)

I saw the empty infant  car seat on the embankment, first. ( Funny how that caught my eye before the police cars and ambulance lights, did.  I am a hard core mom. ) My heart skipped a beat.  Then I noticed a mom holding the tiny one in her arms, with a preschooler sitting along side her, wrapped in blanket to ward off the drizzle that had started to fall.  A toddler held onto the leg of her shorts, somehow, knowing that now wasn’t a time to wander.  Their crushed minivan had become a modern art installment, in the foreground of the scene.



the sink from where I speak...and learn.. I hope:)

I picked yet another finger-printed and milk filmed glass from the dishwater.  For a split second, I considered ACCIDENTLY dropping it so I wouldn’t have to wash it.

I’m THAT sick of doing dishes. 

I bit the bullet, I washed the glass.. (and it’s family of other dirty dishes) and finished cleaning up the kitchen.  “What is wrong with me?”  I wondered, as I caught my reflection in the window over the sink.  “It’s dishes.. they need to be washed… just do it and stop whining about it…Some people don’t have food and you’re pouting about a dishwasher” 

Unfortunately, I argued with my logic.  (Shut up, I’m not crazy, I do that, don’t YOU?) “But it’s BORING and a WASTE of my TIME!”  I countered.  “Make it a spiritual practice… an act of service and love for your family…”  I tried hard, to convince myself.

“I HATE IT.  It’s BORING!” Screamed the brat who lives in my soul. “Enjoy the chance to meditate.. the quiet.. the repetitive and redemptive act of cleaning… “  Said either God- or some part of me that desires Him…

By the time the argument was over, the sink was cleaned and dishes were washed.  The only thing left was the battle in my heart. I couldn’t let it go. I knew that before I could reach the light switch.. some member of this family of five would have dirtied another dish, kick starting the battle all over again.

I grabbed paperplates and plastic cups and put them on the counter. Clearly I needed a dishwashing break before I totally lost my mind. (Sanity being saved, trumps going green.) I went to that perfect corner on the couch.  The one that’s so old it’s dented in the shape of my backside.  I picked up my knitting.  I knit. 

I kept knitting.  One stitch after another.  Then it hit me… honestly?  Part of what I like about knitting is the quiet repetitive-ness of it.  The chance to think.. the opportunity to be (almost) still.  The creative process of producing something useful. I also love spinning for the same reasons….

But  DISHWASHING?  I HATE IT for THE SAME REASONS.  It didn’t make sense.  I knit faster… hoping some mysterious answer to this problem would be found in the completed project…then it hit me.

Whats’ the difference?  I don’t HAVE to knit.  I have a choice.  I also don’t HAVE to spin. I don’t HAVE to sit on the beach and listen to the music of the waves that are just as repetitive and meditative…I don’t HAVE to rock a baby or flip through a magazine savoring pictures without ingesting words…but I do.  Because, I want to.

Maybe that’s the ony difference between meditative activities and annoying ones.. maybe it’s all about the HAVE TO factor.  I thought about it some more… by that time I had another sink of dishes to do.  I stood in the kitchen.  The battle started up again. I stepped back. 

I suddenly realized: I didn’t HAVE to do them.  I had options. 

I could:

  1. Throw them in the trash.
  2. Break them to bits
  3. Hide them in the oven until the dishwasher repair guy finally shows up.
  4. Stick them into the dishwasher dirt and all and leave it as a fragrant surprise for the dishwasher repair guy…
  5. I could enjoy the quiet meditative redemptive quality of washing them.

I turned on the tap.  I smiled at the beautiful, curved  brushed nickel faucet my husband installed for me.  I watched the water flow.  I watched tiny bubbles form like sea foam.  I almost giggled when miniature bubbles floated into the air from the soap bottle when I plopped it back on the counter. 

I prayed for friends as I cleaned the milk filmed glasses.  I listened to hope grow in my heart as I washed plates.  I thanked God for food as I washed it from the silverware.  Before I knew it.. I was out of dishes.  I asked if anyone had any more…they didn’t.  I was done.

Yeah.. the HAVE to Factor was the difference.. so was recognizing that I have a choice.

1 Corinthians 10:31-33

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Dear Lord- bring these thing to mind whenever I’m faced with a challenge like this– and God?  I think I got it now. so umm your  could send the repairman to fix the dishwasher now.. really… I love you Lord and am glad you love me.. the whiner and the listener– all of me… amen