FAITH COLUMN: Spiritual Practices

“I do not sit in meditation or prayer for hours… One of my spiritual practices is doing the dishes”

“I do not sit in meditation or prayer for hours on end. One of my spiritual practices is doing the dishes.”

If you are a member of a faith community and attend regular services, you may say that your spiritual practices are part of your faith. They may include prayers, meditation, attending worship services — the list of opportunities to practice your religion are pretty much carved in stone for you.

But what about those of us who do not fit into this description? Or those who do and yet do not feel like their spiritual lives are alive and well?

I have a suggestion for you (and will have more in upcoming columns) and this is “doing the dishes”. In our family the rule is that if you cook you do not clean up. These days, because I work at home, I am the cook. It is really nice to get up from the table and go on my way. Often I sit down with a cup of tea, some chocolate and play Candy Crush while listening to the others cleaning up in the kitchen.

And this is when it gets spiritual —

I listen to the sound of the running water, the clink of dishes and cutlery as they are rinsed and stacked in the dishwasher. I hear our little dog’s clicking nails on the floor as he hopes for a tidbit of leftover food to come his way. I see in the reflection of the window that someone is carefully wiping the table, placing napkins and place mats back where they belong.

And, I hear laughter bubbling up and people talking about their days.

Occasionally, the silence is deafening – family members not speaking or tears quietly falling into the sink. Sometimes I want to go into the kitchen and ask, “What’s wrong? Are you OK?” But I don’t. Then our cat comes in to find me and jumps into my lap. He knows that he is not welcome in the kitchen during cleanup. He knows that his place is with me. Together, we listen and sit in our own silence. The only sounds coming from us are purrs.

So, what is the spiritual practice? Is it the doing or the listening? What do you think?

Joan Alexander

Spiritual Director

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