Lessons from the Land Without Dishwashers (#4)

This lesson is something I know that anyone who is responsible for household chores has experienced. In fact, it’s so obvious that I wonder if it’s even worth mentioning.

#4) The work of community often goes unnoticed.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I don’t really do the dishes very often. So when I do plunge in and make a dent in the pile, or when I empty the drying rack during the day, I get a bit discouraged when J comes home from work and there is already a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, hiding my hard work.

“I did the dishes today, hon!” I proudly announce on those occasions, and then I glance around sheepishly. “Really, I did. Honest.”

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Lessons from the Land Without Dishwashers (#3)

You may have heard about the interesting group of folks known to us as the “desert fathers and mothers” (or abbas and ammas). Early monastic Christians, the abbas and ammas lived out in the desert either in solitude or in small enclave communities. What has been passed on to us from the third and fourth century through various sources are their “sayings.” These appear as stories from their lives that still offer spiritual guidance to us through the use of Scripture and practical wisdom. (See, for example, Benedicta Ward’s compilation The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks. You can even “search inside” at Amazon.)

To our ears–and to our lives–these ancient sayings often seem odd, impractical, and quaint. But they’re really rather revolutionary.

Still, what could they possibly have to do with dishwashers?

I’m so glad you asked.

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Lessons from the Land Without Dishwashers (#2)

There is a part of me that has been biologically wired to take the reins of projects that are floundering. I really–and I mean really–hate to stand around when there are things that need doing, food that needs baking, parties that need planning, people that need, ahem, instructing. My dad’s family members–his sisters in particular–are also this way, so I think it’s in our blood.

Some people might call us bossy. I say we know how to get things done.

That is my way of introducing Lesson #2, something I’ve had a particularly hard time learning in this land without dishwashers:

2) Just because you don't like the way it's being done 
     doesn't mean you should just do it yourself.

Let’s face it: most of the time, I’d rather just do it myself.

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Writing in Community: Or, How I Ended Up with Enough Poems to Publish a Chapbook

Last night, I went to my monthly writing group meeting. We only had three poems to discuss–one of mine, two of another’s–and only four of us were able to meet due to the public school system starting up last week and causing some chaos in folks’ lives. But we still got together. We drove out to one member’s beautiful house on a lake. We ate pistachios and chocolate covered almonds. We rejoiced in recent writing successes–one has a novel recently published, another will have some of her incredible artwork on display in galleries, and I have a chapbook of poems coming out soon–and praised one member’s amazing poetry, a member who wasn’t even present! And then we got down to business and worked through the poems.

We jokingly call ourselves the “Odd Ducks,” and one of the things I like about the group is that, outside of writing creatively, I’m not sure we’d otherwise be friends. Some of us, yes, but probably not all of us. And yet we’ve been meeting monthly, give or take, for over three years. Three years!

That’s a lot of poems.

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Hypocrites, Hospitality, & Doing It Anyway (the follow-up)

Soon and very soon, Lent is coming to an end. I’m sort of in denial about it because, quite frankly, it hasn’t felt very Lent-ish this season to me.

Let me digress for a moment: Sometimes we need to keep reminding ourselves that it’s okay to feel this way and  that it’s good to be honest about it, instead of trying to pretend we’re cultivating something we’re not. As I emphasized to the class I taught on the liturgical year at church over the last month, one of the beautiful things about living seasonally, about living the church year, is that it helps us to remember that the story will get told again next year. Sometimes we need to tell The Story to each other, and tell it to each other, and tell it to each other, over and over again. That’s what community does. We remind one another of the story we claim to live. But sometimes people die on Christmas day, and there is little feeling of joy during the season of Christmas. Sometimes babies are born during Lent, and there is little feeling of penitance. We keep on keeping on anyway, and we look forward to the next season.

I haven’t felt very Lent-ish for a variety of reasons, only one of which is the big zinger of being 8 months’ pregnant.

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Lessons from the Land without Dishwashers: #4

[An introduction to this blog series is here. Lesson #1 is here, #2 is here, and #3 was posted yesterday.]

This lesson is something I know that anyone who is responsible for household chores has experienced. In fact, it’s so obvious that I wonder if it’s even worth mentioning.

#4) The work of community often goes unnoticed.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I don’t really do the dishes very often. So when I do plunge in and make a dent in the pile, or when I empty the drying rack during the day, I get a bit discouraged when J comes home from work and there is already a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, hiding my hard work.

“I did the dishes today, hon!” I proudly announce on those occasions, and then I glance around sheepishly. “Really, I did. Honest.”

Continue reading

Lessons from the Land without Dishwashers: #3

[An introduction to this blog series is here. Lesson #1 is here. #2 is here.]

You may have heard about the interesting group of folks known to us as the “desert fathers and mothers” (or abbas and ammas). Early monastic Christians, the abbas and ammas lived out in the desert either in solitude or in small enclave communities. What has been passed on to us from the third and fourth century through various sources are their “sayings.” These appear as stories from their lives that still offer spiritual guidance to us through the use of Scripture and practical wisdom. (See, for example, Benedicta Ward’s compilation The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks. You can even “search inside” at Amazon.)

To our ears–and to our lives–these ancient sayings often seem odd, impractical, and quaint. But they’re really rather revolutionary.

Still, what could they possibly have to do with dishwashers?

I’m so glad you asked.

Continue reading