Rinse and Repeat:  How to find God …in the kitchen sink.

Dishes (Photo credit: Martin Cathrae)

Until this year I have not been good at keeping New Year’s resolutions.   I think I always swear to things which are a little out of reach in order to exempt myself from success. The voices in my head say, “Let it slide. After all, no one keeps New Year’s resolutions anyway…I guess I’ll just keep these 10 extra pounds for now.”

To my great surprise this year has been different. In fact it has actually caused a shift in my spirituality that I have been longing for.  I think it is good news for all of us.  My resolution is this:  rinse and repeat.

It’s not entirely about shampoo, though that is a nice metaphor.   Shampooing my hair is something I do everyday, and it doesn’t feel like work. In fact, I feel incomplete if I don’t.   It’s a small task, a habit, which is why I keep it up.  Dishes, on the other hand, tend to be a big mountain to climb. That’s not a metaphor. They actually pile up, and I have to climb the pile just to figure out where to start.  Eesh.

So, this year I have been trying to make molehills out of mountains.  In the kitchen at the sink, it starts with the small task of rinsing dishes as soon as I am done with them. Just like Mom taught me. When I do that I say, “Here is a dish, God, whatdaya think?”

Sunday Mass with Benedictine Monks
Sunday Mass with Benedictine Monks (Photo credit: prayitno)

Even just to remember that God is there and knows I am here is a little form of prayer. That is it. When I write, I pray for you. When I am done eating, I show God my plate. While these are not all there is to my spiritual life, right now they are the more transformative aspects of it.

I am beginning where I am rather than wasting time thinking about where I should be. My desire to pray can be like my New Year’s resolutions. I keep coming at it with expectations that are, frankly, out of reach. I would love to give you the impression that my prayer life is somehow profound, or perhaps even mystical.   It isn’t.

I’d say that – for right now – I am not able to pray big, whatever that means.  But by finding God and the dishes in the same sink, it doesn’t feel so exhausting.  So today I pray “in small”.  Even if one day I do end up praying big, I will always still have to face the details.  We will always have to face the pesky busy work of life: bills, dishes, yard work, laundry, squeezing the toothpaste tube right.

Some say the devil is in the details. Some say God is there.  In truth we know both options are possibilities. It all just depends on who we invite into them.

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  • Laura

    I agree! Today I was just thinking about how I try to memorize a scripture while washing dishes & pray while I put on make-up. (They must be quick prayers because I don’t wear a lot of make-up!) Anyway, you are right about always having details to attend to. We might as well turn them into something positive.

  • Melissa Lake

    Love! It only took me 5 minutes away from cleaning my mom’s house to read this and I’m glad I did.


  • Wendy

    This kind of deliberate awareness of God in my ordinary has made a huge difference in my prayer life as well. Thanks for illustrating the process so well!

  • Jean

    This is great. I love the honesty in it. Today I was so moved by the music and the children at our Palm Sunday services, but that is like being at the mountain top. And if that is the only time we meet God we are missing something really important. Spending time with God in the ordinary is easier to reach.

  • Robert Nowlin

    Agreed. This reminds me of a book that I recently found in a used bookstore when I was visiting my family in Clovis, CA, over Christmas. A monk who lived several centuries ago in France, named Brother Lawrence, is known for his prayer that he might find God in his daily work, in his case, the kitchen pot and pans. His insight brings us to realize that prayer is not only what you do with your mind as it is what you do with your body. I took this insight and even used it in a sermon recently to say that God is an everyday God. A very powerful message.