The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"
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The daily routines that provide a modicum of discipline in our lives are perceived as a drag,
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And it always seems that just when daily life seems most unbearable, stretching out before me like a prison sentence, when I seem most dead inside, reduced to mindlessness, bitter tears or both, that what is inmost breaks forth, and I realize that what had seemed “dead time” was actually a period of gestation.
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And I love the simple, unsanctimonious and humble thing that Day herself said about her practice: “My strength… returns to me with my cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms.”
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But, as Seren Kierkegaard reminds us, “Repetition is reality, and it is the seriousness of life&repetition is the daily bread which satisfies with benediction.”
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Shampooing the hair, washing the body, brushing the teeth, drinking enough water, taking a daily vitamin, going for a walk, as simple as they seem, are acts of self—respect. They enhance one’s ability to take pleasure in oneself and in the world.
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I was slow to recognize that combating sloth, being willing to care for oneself and others on a daily basis, is no small part of what constitutes basic human sanity, a faith in the everyday.
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But her statement does reveal the dilemma that daily household tasks have become for women. Must we choose between a life of the mind and a life of repetitive, burdensome work?