Dishes and Litany and all that Beauty

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I live in the litany of the putting away. The clean dishes go onto shelves, forks and knives and cups and bowls. And the boys are waiting for their food, always waiting for food. I move from fridge to stove to sink to table, little circles.

Sometimes it’s morning. I listen to the news in my pajamas. Oatmeal for one child. Cereal for another. I’m slicing an apple. I’m pouring a cup of milk. I’m cleaning up a spill. I’m reminding Brooksie that “our food does not go on the floor, little babes.” I’m sipping coffee as I move around that room. I’m not frantic. But I know what needs to get done and my gut is begging me to feed it as well. Take bites. My mom always stood during breakfast too.

Sometimes it’s lunch and the quesadilla has two sides: one swiped with spinach puree for the baby who doesn’t notice green things yet. One plain for the boy who notices everything. “What vegetable would you like today?” I’m saying. He’d like to just once get away with no vegetable. Not in my kitchen! My head sings. And, it’s true: I own this room.

Later, during naptime, there are dishes to wash and floors to sweep and counters to wipe or, possibly, to be left till later. Because, seriously, I need to get on Twitter.

And dinner, and after dinner: All those dishes. All those pans. When we were first married and living on my tiny fellowship in grad school, freezing in Syracuse winter with our heat set to 62, Chris and I stood together in the kitchen washing pans and drying them, washing plates and drying them. That next apartment in Philly had a dishwasher. It was a slice of glory. We filled it with wonder in our eyes. How easily I can forget that.

The other day, I was putting away a glass bowl: the kind that has held salad and cookie dough, a baking soda volcano and playdough mix and I thought: This is it. This is my life.

Granted, sometimes I can have that thought in the kind of way that leads me to cry in my pillow and take a long bath and rewatch the saddest scene in Little Women (you guys know what I’m talking about). But, sometimes, I have that thought and the light shines in through the window and the bowl sparkles and I think: Thank you, bowl, for the volcano and the endless supply of salads. Thank you for the chocolate pudding August and I made in our second apartment in San Francisco and the way he couldn’t quite pronounce “choquate” then. Thank you for the endless circles I’ve scrubbed around you in every home Chris and I have shared for almost eight years. Thank you for the putting away and the getting out and the hope that I can always clean you.

And in those moments when the bowl is good and the litany is good, I realize that my life is this in its most simplest form: these circles I’m moving in around the kitchen and around my day–from breakfast to play time to errands to the kitchen to nap time and writing time and play time and the sun shining down on us outside and back to the kitchen and food and my husband being home and the boys wrestling in the living room and bathing the boys and clean shiny skin and combing their wet hair down and pajamas and teeth brushed and stories read and bodies tucked in and moments with my husband on the couch and our own books and bedtime. And we do it over and over and over. And this is the shocker: That circle is good.

Because this is what I’m realizing: every night as I lay my baby down in his crib and sing the words, “I know that moons rise and time flies and sweet little boys get older…” I see him changing. Some moments I can stop the circling long enough to notice: the way he’s smiling today, the joke he’s trying to play on me, the love he’s inheriting for books. And when I notice, that’s when I remember to pray.

It’s always about paying attention, I was thinking yesterday afternoon, stacking plates on top of one another, hoping not to wake the light-sleeping baby whose room shares a wall with the dishes. And that makes the circle more of a spiral, doesn’t it? We’re always circling, yes. But it turns out in all this doing and putting away and creating and consuming, we’ve been spiraling toward something all along.

And that spiral leads toward a glorious center, the place where God is making all the plain things beautiful and all the sad things untrue.

  • Mariel Wooten

    Beautiful post. I have that same bowl :) – humble spiraling mom of 6

  • Carolyn

    This was lovely! I loved the spirals and making sad things untrue. A renewed sense of purpose to my circling today!

  • Shepard

    Thank you for those words.

  • Shepard

    Thank you for those words.

  • Adriel Booker

    A few days ago I was storming around the house, wildly shoving things back into places where they belong. I was acting like a teenager and I knew it. But I just wanted to be mad. I wanted to be justified in my grumbling and sulking and dragging of the feet. Surely I shouldn’t have to move my husband’s jeans from the dining room chair where they had landed the night before between his shower and his evening TV again, right? Right? I knew better. I knew that “should” wasn’t the issue here, the issue was the attitude of my heart. And I had lost it in that moment – the ability to serve. Ugly stuff, that. I’ve been convicted that to serve is just that – to give with no strings attached. But this is a step beyond serving, this is gratitude. And it’s beautiful. Thank you. I needed that.

  • Adriel Booker

    A few days ago I was storming around the house, wildly shoving things back into places where they belong. I was acting like a teenager and I knew it. But I just wanted to be mad. I wanted to be justified in my grumbling and sulking and dragging of the feet. Surely I shouldn’t have to move my husband’s jeans from the dining room chair where they had landed the night before between his shower and his evening TV again, right? Right? I knew better. I knew that “should” wasn’t the issue here, the issue was the attitude of my heart. And I had lost it in that moment – the ability to serve. Ugly stuff, that. I’ve been convicted that to serve is just that – to give with no strings attached. But this is a step beyond serving, this is gratitude. And it’s beautiful. Thank you. I needed that.

  • http://www.lifebeforethebucket.com Adrian W.

    That last line makes me think of the song “The Great I Am.”

    Beautiful post.

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  • http://twitter.com/monicajselby Monica Selby (@monicajselby)

    Beautiful, Micha!op

    So often we SAY we want simplicity and slow days. (Well, I do at least.) But then when we have them, we rail against it. Oh, no, not THIS simplicity!!

    Lately I’ve taken to trying to imagine what my boys will remember about childhood. It helps a little, when I’m feeling tapped out, to hope they remember the extra book, or the repetitive breakfasts, or the last good night kiss. These monotonous tasks can make me crazy sometimes, but if they build into my boys’ lives, it’s easier to believe they’re worth every effort.

  • http://phyllislorenzmft.com Phyllis lorenz

    Beautiful, kairos time.

    • http://phyllislorenzmft.com phyllis lorenz

      Your post reminded me of this:

      From Walking on Water, by Madeleine L’Engle:

      Kairos. Real time. God’s time.
      That time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, that time we do not recognize while we are experiencing it, but only afterwards, because kairos has nothing to do with chronological time. In kairos we are completely unselfconscious, and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we’re constantly checking our watches for chronological time.

      The saint in contemplation, lost to self in the mind of God is in kairos. The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside herself in the game, be it building a sand castle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings, co-creators with God, touching on the wonder of creation.

      This calling should not be limited to artists, or saints, but it is a fearful calling. It is both Mana and taboo. It can destroy as well as bring into being.

      In Our Town, after Emily has died in childbirth, Thornton Wilder has her ask the Stage Manager if she can return home to relive just one day. Reluctantly he allows her to do so. And she is torn by the beauty of the ordinary, and by our lack of awareness of it. She cries out to her mother, “Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me… it goes so fast we don’t have time to look at one another.”

      And she goes back to the graveyard and the quiet company of the others lying there, and she asks the Stage Manager “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?” And he sighs and says, “No. The saints and poets, maybe. They do some.”

  • http://phyllislorenzmft.com Phyllis lorenz

    Beautiful, kairos time.

    • http://phyllislorenzmft.com phyllis lorenz

      Your post reminded me of this:

      From Walking on Water, by Madeleine L’Engle:

      Kairos. Real time. God’s time.
      That time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, that time we do not recognize while we are experiencing it, but only afterwards, because kairos has nothing to do with chronological time. In kairos we are completely unselfconscious, and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we’re constantly checking our watches for chronological time.

      The saint in contemplation, lost to self in the mind of God is in kairos. The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside herself in the game, be it building a sand castle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings, co-creators with God, touching on the wonder of creation.

      This calling should not be limited to artists, or saints, but it is a fearful calling. It is both Mana and taboo. It can destroy as well as bring into being.

      In Our Town, after Emily has died in childbirth, Thornton Wilder has her ask the Stage Manager if she can return home to relive just one day. Reluctantly he allows her to do so. And she is torn by the beauty of the ordinary, and by our lack of awareness of it. She cries out to her mother, “Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me… it goes so fast we don’t have time to look at one another.”

      And she goes back to the graveyard and the quiet company of the others lying there, and she asks the Stage Manager “Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?” And he sighs and says, “No. The saints and poets, maybe. They do some.”

  • Ursula

    I had a plaque made above my kitchen with the Voskamp quote “because this marvelous mess, this is it.”. A reminder of the beauty and gift of food to eat, babies to feed and a kitchen to clean.

  • Ursula

    I had a plaque made above my kitchen with the Voskamp quote “because this marvelous mess, this is it.”. A reminder of the beauty and gift of food to eat, babies to feed and a kitchen to clean.

  • erin

    Love this! there are days i am stung out at my breaking point and then there are days where i just take a deep breath and think to myself “how much do i love my children they are just the greatest” I think case and point is mom’s have feelings and emotions too and sometimes they do get the best of us. Sometimes life gives us more dirty diapers than we think we can handle but in the end it is God who shines down and shows us what He made us of :) it is a high calling to be a mother and sometimes we forget that being a wife and mom is our ministry and we change and influence lives everyday! I am so blessed to have a husband who helps out so much. if there are dishes in the sink he will not walk past them, he will take care of them he is my helpmate as much as i am his.

  • erin

    Love this! there are days i am stung out at my breaking point and then there are days where i just take a deep breath and think to myself “how much do i love my children they are just the greatest” I think case and point is mom’s have feelings and emotions too and sometimes they do get the best of us. Sometimes life gives us more dirty diapers than we think we can handle but in the end it is God who shines down and shows us what He made us of :) it is a high calling to be a mother and sometimes we forget that being a wife and mom is our ministry and we change and influence lives everyday! I am so blessed to have a husband who helps out so much. if there are dishes in the sink he will not walk past them, he will take care of them he is my helpmate as much as i am his.

  • Jeannie

    Just lovely: so much wisdom there. I’m very much enjoying your blog, which I only discovered a month or so ago.

  • Jeannie

    Just lovely: so much wisdom there. I’m very much enjoying your blog, which I only discovered a month or so ago.

  • Mary Elizabeth

    Beautifully said, I LOVE the spiral realization. Thank you for sharing : )

  • Mary Elizabeth

    Beautifully said, I LOVE the spiral realization. Thank you for sharing : )

  • katieleigh

    I’ve been struggling lately with ennui, with feeling bored and impatient with my circles, my rhythms. Thank you for these words – and for always reminding me to pay attention.

  • pastordt

    SO lovely. SO true. Thank you for this gentle swirling through the day and reminding us that here, too, is glory.

  • pastordt

    SO lovely. SO true. Thank you for this gentle swirling through the day and reminding us that here, too, is glory.

  • http://www.atimetodance-amanda.blogspot.com Amanda

    This is one of my favorite things that you have ever written. Seriously. So beautifully done and it hits home, as I am always (ALWAYS!) in need of a reminder to pay attention and notice. And, even though I know in my heart that the rhythms of my day are a gift, my head always wants to make me believe that they are leading us nowhere and that the mundane is just…mundane. I love the thought of the circle being a spiral. Thanks for that. Just…the whole thing….beautiful.

    And…I giggled a little when I saw the title cause it had the same feel and rhythm as mine today and also because when I read it I thought, “Isn’t it just like two girls from Texas to talk about beauty?” :P

    Hugs!

  • http://www.atimetodance-amanda.blogspot.com Amanda

    This is one of my favorite things that you have ever written. Seriously. So beautifully done and it hits home, as I am always (ALWAYS!) in need of a reminder to pay attention and notice. And, even though I know in my heart that the rhythms of my day are a gift, my head always wants to make me believe that they are leading us nowhere and that the mundane is just…mundane. I love the thought of the circle being a spiral. Thanks for that. Just…the whole thing….beautiful.

    And…I giggled a little when I saw the title cause it had the same feel and rhythm as mine today and also because when I read it I thought, “Isn’t it just like two girls from Texas to talk about beauty?” :P

    Hugs!

  • michaboyett

    Thanks for all the kindness today, friends. I’m so grateful you’re all learning these things with me. Much love!

  • michaboyett

    Thanks for all the kindness today, friends. I’m so grateful you’re all learning these things with me. Much love!

  • http://twitter.com/kt_writes Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

    Yes. This: “Some moments I can stop the circling long enough to notice…. And when I notice, that’s when I remember to pray.”

  • http://twitter.com/kt_writes Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

    Yes. This: “Some moments I can stop the circling long enough to notice…. And when I notice, that’s when I remember to pray.”

  • jeandunham

    this was so beautiful, micha! thank you!

  • jeandunham

    this was so beautiful, micha! thank you!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/fran.pratt Fran Pratt

    Hey Micha, I saw your post was mentioned on Rachel Held Evans’ blog. Good for you. Lovely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fran.pratt Fran Pratt

    Hey Micha, I saw your post was mentioned on Rachel Held Evans’ blog. Good for you. Lovely.

  • http://www.theparentvortex.com Michelle @ The Parent Vortex

    I love this: “Thank you, bowl, for the volcano and the endless supply of salads.” The endless dishes do get me down, but thanks for the reminder that cleaning them can be a meditation on thankfulness. Those dishes serve us in so many ways, and we take care of them in return.


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