{This Sacred Everyday} Amy Lepine Peterson

Amy Lepine Peterson is one of those kindreds I’ve found out there in the great big wide web. Every time I read her writing I’m moved or challenged or encouraged by our like-mindedness. I love having her here today. And it’s an honor to share her with you.

 

Basket-Weaving

At this point, I’m pretty sure there’s not a safe seat left.  Every easy chair, couch cushion, and carpet has been peed on at one point or another. Despite my eco-friendly cleaning regimen of white vinegar & tea-tree oil, the scent of urine lingers – or I imagine it does –  wafting up each time I settle into the blue cushion of our second hand sofa.

Tonight I load the laundry in again, acrid undies and leggings and rags, remnants of potty training tried and failed.  If I don’t do the wash, she won’t have any pants to wear tomorrow. I measure the detergent, close the door, and sigh with self-pity.

The desert fathers sought out these kinds of menial tasks as a way of spiritual formation.  I know this.  I know they wove reeds into baskets, unwove them, wove them again.  An object lesson. A reminder that the heart behind the work is more important than the task itself. I get that.

But when my husband is sweeping up glass and glitter from the shattered snow globe, and I am blotting the fishy smell out of a throw pillow, and the toddler is screaming, “please!” and the preschooler is crying because of the newly sewn stitches across her forehead, my introverted brain thinks the desert fathers were lucky; at least they got to practice their menial tasks in solitude.

In the kitchen I whisper to Jack, “Are you tired of being a parent yet?” and bury my head in his chest.

—–

Rosie is almost four, and uninterested in the potty training she had at some point mastered. Letters are what fascinate her; Rosie is learning to write her name. I find the alphabet drafted everywhere: our chalkboard, junk mail envelopes, book dust jackets, the floors and walls (we’ve had a few talks about those).   Her penmanship is distinctive; the “e” looks like a theta {Θ}, but I can’t bear to correct it. She’ll learn form and sequence soon enough, I tell myself, she will distinguish “b” from “d,” and eventually she will write her e’s correctly.

Last week Rosie’s teacher at preschool showed her how to form the letter “e”.  The girl came home with pages full of “e,” painstakingly traced, repeated over and over again.  She went straight to her chalkboard and continued drawing them.

She loved being shown the right way, being corrected, and practising the form.

—–

Here we are again Lord, over and over, again and one more time we come before you.

This prayer is written in my decade-old journal, copied from a book I read once.  I still breathe it in and out as I go throughout my day.  Here we are again, Lord.  Washing the dishes again.  Marking the same grammar mistakes on a load of research papers. Over and over.  Pulling off band-aids.  Scrubbing mildew from the crevices around the drain.  Again and one more time. Walking into the backyard to scream for a quick second. Hoping for a chance to be alone in the bathroom for once. We come before you.

I breathe the prayer in and out, practicing the form.

—–

Sometimes Rosie still reverts to thetas.  The theta-e and the stick-figure-R are what come naturally.  The true letter shapes, though she knows them, haven’t yet become part of her muscle memory.  She must focus intently to get them right, but she doesn’t mind being prompted, and she always loves the practice.

Here we are again, Lord, over and over, again and one more time we come before you. The prayer is changing my muscle memory, training my responses toward gratitude and patience. Weaving into my heart the habits of discipline I once despised,  I bring myself before God in each mundane task. I try to cultivate thankfulness, but if not that, I at least bring my unkempt,smelly heart before him, saying here it is, in all its selfish glory, again and one more time. He washes me, uncomplaining, and shows me how to form the words again.




Amy Lepine Peterson teaches ESL Writing and American Pop Culture at Taylor University, and spends most of her time making a home for her best-friend-husband and their two (frankly adorable) children. You can find her in the cornfields of Indiana, or online at Making All Things New

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