homely material duties

“There is something in homely material duties which heals and calms the mind and gives it the power to come back to itself.  And in sudden calamities those who know how to make use of their hands do not hopelessly wring them…” (Janet Erskine Stuart, The Education of Catholic School Girls, 85, out of print. Qtd. in Elisabeth Eliiot Newsletter Jul/Aug. 1988).

For most of us, our days are filled with mundane, repetitious, perhaps even meaningless tasks. And yet, in all of this work lies the possibility for us to develop a sort of inner attention, and even the possibility for us to, as Bonhoeffer says in Life Together, to break through from the “it” of the task to the “Thou” of God, who is present with us in the task. There is a good essay by Simone Weil on the topic, which I will have to track down.  After I wash these dishes.


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