I am absorbed in the rhythm. Mindlessly lost in the repetitive motion. My thoughts wander to land here and there—time-travel to and fro. I return to the present for a moment. Four carrots. One large onion. My thoughts re-gather and head elsewhere.
I am in the kitchen chopping uniform pieces of vegetables to throw into my stew. A task I have done so many times that it takes very little thought or concentration. I can relax and slide into a sort of trance.
Grab, halve, line up, chop, chop, chop, empty into pan. Begin again.
There is comfort in doing repetitive tasks that don’t require much brain power. I can slide into autopilot and my mind is free to wander. Whether it is raking multi-colored leaves, watering colorful flower beds, washing piles of dishes, cleaning grimy bathrooms, pulling covers up and fluffing pillows, vacuuming expanses of carpet, folding piles of laundry, wandering grocery aisles, spraying and wipe-circling widows, or cooking familiar dishes.
God gave us work to comfort, fulfill, and test us. To task our creativity, take pride in, and improve upon. Work can be a form of worship and to show love to those around us.
There are days I bemoan all my daily and insignificant tasks. When I feel so far behind I don’t think I will ever emerge into the light. Days I get frustrated with what I don’t get done instead of rejoicing in what I did accomplish.
Yet I need work. I need the comfort of routines and rhythmic work to soothe me and provide respites. To bring a sense of accomplishment and make me feel a valuable part of the family. To remind me to serve and love those around me through my hands. To remember how much God has blessed us. To show that we live in an un-perfect and messy world and that things never stay the same or clean for more than a few nano-seconds. To remind me of the mess of my soul. To know the joy in accomplishing a task. To give me something to do when I am hit with adversity or worried.
There are days I wish to retire and have nothing more demanding than read a book from cover to end without interruption. Days I want to sit in the shade doing nothing but thinking and drinking iced chai tea lattes.
I dream of days filled with clean bathrooms, washed clothes, prepared food, no appointments, no teaching, no phones, and certainly no demands or disturbances. Where people are waiting on my needs, taking care of me, completing my menial and every possible task.
But how long would it be before I would start to get bored, feel useless, grow selfish, and have no direction.
After dinner, I start washing the dinner dishes, swirling the stew juices from the bowls, chasing crumbs and bits of veggies down the aerator, bending over to load the dishwasher, and I think about the comfort of work. I thank God that I have work to do and the strength to do it, that I have dishes to wash and water to wash them in, and a family to dirty the dishes.
What are your thoughts on work? How does work comfort you? What are your favorite menial tasks that allow your brain to be elsewhere?