I ring out the wash cloth after dipping in soapy water. I sulk to the sticky kitchen table and start wiping.
“You know, I feel like a hampster in one of those plastic wheels. All day I clean. All day! I clean, clean, clean. I wash dishes, what? Five times a day? I organize dishes, I wash them, I dry them, I put them away, I take them out again… I make a meal and start all over. Argh!”
Back to the sink, dip cloth, ring it out, and now the counter tops. My husband just looks up, smiles slightly, and keeps scrubbing the pot in his hands.
“I mean, seriously!” I continue. “It’s all I do. It’s practically my unpaid occupation! I clean half-done crafts, I pick up toys, books, games, play-doh… I scrub toilets, I vacuum – like 4 times a day now that we have Molly (our 85lbs Golden Retriever Pup). I do dishes. That’s what I do. I should have gotten a degree in soap suds or something.”
He snorts and shakes his head.
I shake mine too, finally stopping myself from further outburst. And then – I quit ranting long enough to allow my mind to wander in the silence of our little country home full of sleeping kids. I start thinking about the Mamas out there who don’t have a kitchen. Mamas who don’t have warm walls around them and safe places to play with their sweet babies. Mamas who can’t wash dishes in the sink because there is no running water. Mamas who may not even have dishes to do because there was no food to cook. And then I start clearing plates and looking at all the waste the kids had left behind. Mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, half of a buttered tea biscuit, almost a full piece of chicken breast. My eyes well-up as I realize the amount of food I scrape into the green bin could be enough to feed a starving child a bigger meal than he’ll get in a week.
The conviction hits me like a freight train and I hunch over the table, allowing the tears to flow – the emotions to hit me. The way you smack someone on the cheek who’s passed out, that’s the way they hit me. “Wake up, Cass!” (Smack.) ”CASS! WAKE UP!!!” (Smack, smack, smack!)
Once again I’m reminded of my own immaturity and where I’m truly standing on this journey of life. Not even close to ‘there’. I complain and grumble when I tidy up at the end of a busy day. And I fail to realize what that means. It means I say no to God’s blessing in my life. That I choose to heave a juvenile ”whatever” to all He has given me. (And it’s then when I am brought to my knees for the grace over me and thankful for humble women who teach so freely.) And thankful too that life is a journey and we get second chances. And third, fourth, fifth…
I have so much more than I’ll ever need. I can run warm water to wash our dishes. I have a warm, clean kitchen filled with artwork from our kids, spices, teas, delicious goodies, and happy family memories. I have electricity. I have a fridge full of healthy, fresh food I can reach in and give my child when he is hungry. I have clean drinking water to offer my daughter when she is thirsty. I’ve never had to feel my heart burst and turn violently inside my chest while I watch my children cry in pain because they are starving and their Mama has no food to give them.
This may not sound like the kind of thoughts that would fill me with anything but extreme sorrow. And I do feel sorrow – I weep for all the families who live in poverty and especially those Mothers who simply cannot provide the basic necessities for their children. I pray for them and we help them, but not enough. We could do more. Always more. And starting with this – having the humble respect to be THANKFUL for what I have. Not greedily and ignorantly whining because I have chores to do.
I want this feeling to last – the wide-eyed dish-doing realization that I am so weak and so selfish and also so underservingly, richly given-to. I want to live in light of all I have, not all I don’t have. I want to grip for dear life at the whispered prayer for God to help me remember all the Mamas who are equal to me in every way, deserving all I’ve never deserved to have. To give to them freely and openly. To never ever take a simple task like ‘doing the dishes’ for granted. The fact that I can and need to do the daily chore of ‘washing up’ makes me deeply and immeasurably blessed in so many ways.
So yes, these stacked up, mucked-up, caked-on plates are indeed, Blessed Dishes.
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