I generally tell those I journey with that I can tell a lot about their lives by the state of their apartment. Esther de Waal said something similar in her book The Way of Simplicity. She wrote, “An old monastic saying goes that you can tell how a man prays by the way in which he sweeps the cloister.” It made me realize that it is not just how cluttered or uncluttered your living space is, but the ways in which you go about the routine practices in your life like sweeping the floor.
If someone were to watch the way you perform a routine act in your home or office, what would they learn about you. It has made me wonder what others think of or learn about me by the way I do things. I would like to think people would think I was mindful and intentional, but I also know there are routines I am not as mindful and focused as others.
It is easier for me to be mindful and focused when I am cooking because I am constantly thinking, especially now, about what I am eating, where it has come from, what I am doing with it. I treat each of my ingredients with a sense of reverence. However, in all honesty, I have come to realize that I do not bring that same sense of reverence to everything I do, especially chores I have not enjoyed.
What do you do with reverence? Is it sweeping the floor, vacuuming, doing laundry, cooking, or some other routine in your home? When you are at work do you complete your routines with reverence or is it just one more thing on your things to do list.
What if we each took a moment to see each routine we have as a statement of our relationship with the Divine? What would you do differently? I can tell you this week has been insightful for me and reminded me of teachings from Thich Nhat Hanh in his book Peace in every Breath. As I folded the laundry I found myself giving thanks for each towel which dried me off after my showers, for the washcloths, the clean cloths and the smell of our new laundry detergent. I began to give thanks for those who had made all these things and those who created the processes which even allowed those to be ours today. Folding laundry went from being just a chore I did because it needed to get done, to a routine that was quiet time with Spirit, a time of reflection and a time of giving thanks. I wonder if people would see the difference in how I fold laundry if they were to have watched me this week verses last.
Bringing this attitude is less about what others think when observing me, but remembering to give thanks and present as I do these routines which are so often done in a state of auto pilot. May we remember that these are more than just a routine.
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