It’s late. The babies are finally sleeping…nested snugly into their cribs. I am at the kitchen sink, arms deep in hot soapy water. The dishwasher runs beside me but there are always those stragglers I end up cleaning by hand.
Dishes. I hate washing dishes. It was my chore growing up and in a household of seven it was the chore than never ended.
Tonight though, I am more reverential about washing cups and plates. I think of the millions of women around the world joining me in this act. A gift really for our families. And in that moment I realize that I’ve dipped my hands in holy water. Cleansing water. Perhaps even healing water? After all, to serve others often patches up one’s own soul and can soothe the wounded places.
This holy water tears down party lines. There is no stay-at-home Mom versus working Mom. Mother of six versus Mother of one. Wife versus single woman. There are only women. Weary from a long day and yet cleaning up the remains of a meal. They scrub the grime off, rinse and dry. They create order out of seeming chaos. They love through their hands. Holy water unifies.
There are also distinct marks that come from touching holiness…from participating in sacred acts. I think of Moses aging after he caught a glimpse of the tail-end of God’s majesty. Holiness marks us. I pull my hands out of the sink, wrinkled like prunes and know that later they will be dry and slightly chapped.
Holy water, not reserved for special occasions or important people. Poured out. Sprinkled over. Young, old, here and far away. Beauty and blessing in the small and repetitive moments of an ordinary life.
And suddenly I am thankful. Grateful for my children, my siblings, my husband. Even thankful for the dogs. This holy water that I dip into also empowers me to pass it on. I am priestess of the suds. As small silverware and sippy cups pass through a rinse, on their way to the drying rack, I bless the tiny lips and miniature fingers that have touched them. I send up a blessing for the baby sister whose juice glass I swish in the soap. I pray for the husband as his dinner plate is scraped clean. Here, at this piece of counter beneath a fogged window in a small kitchen, much has been granted to me. The weight of this responsibility is sobering.
Still, more than that is the joy. This. This life. This little sliver of the mundane has been given to me. An indescribable gift. I smile. Run more water. There are more dishes to come.