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The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work by Kathleen Norris
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“Laundry, liturgy and women's work all serve to ground us in the world, and they need not grind us down. Our daily tasks, whether we perceive them as drudgery or essential, life-supporting work, do not define who we are as women or as human beings.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
tags: women
“The Bible is full of evidence that God's attention is indeed fixed on the little things. But this is not because God is a great cosmic cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us--loves us so much that we the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life. It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is "renewed in the morning" or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, "our inner nature is being renewed everyday". Seen in this light, what strikes many modern readers as the ludicrous details in Leviticus involving God in the minuitae of daily life might be revisioned as the very love of God. ”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“The ordinary activities I find most compatible with contemplation are walking, baking bread, and doing laundry. ”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“The often heard lament, “I have so little time,” gives the lie to the delusion that the daily is of little significance. Everyone has exactly the same amount of time, the same twenty—four hours in which many a weary voice has uttered the gospel truth: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Mt 6:34, KJV). But most of us, most of the time, take for granted what is closest to us and is most universal. The daily round of sunrise and sunset, for example, that marks the coming and passing of each day, is no longer a symbol of human hopes, or of God’s majesty, but a grind, something we must grit our teeth to endure. Our busy schedules, and even urban architecture, which all too often deprives us of a sense of the sky, has diminished our capacity to marvel with the psalmist in the passage of time as an expression of God’s love for us and for all creation: It was God who made the great lights, whose love endures forever; the sun to rule in the day, whose love endures forever; the moon and stars in the night, whose love endures forever. (Ps 136: 7—9, GR) When”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"
“Whatever you do repeatedly,” he writes, “has the power to shape you, has the power to make you over into a different person— even if you’re not totally engaged’ in every minute!”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"
“Ironically, it seems that it is by the means of seemingly perfunctory daily rituals and routines that we enhance the personal relationships that nourish and sustain us.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“The Bible is full of evidence that God’s attention is indeed fixed on the little things. But this is not because God is a Great Cosmic Cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us—loves us so much that the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life. It is in the ordinary, the here—and—now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew—laden grass that is “renewed in the morning” (Ps 90:5), or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, “our inner nature is being renewed every day” (2 Cor 4:16). Seen in this light, what strikes many modern readers as the ludicrous attention to detail in the book of Leviticus, involving God in the minutiae of daily life—all the cooking and cleaning of a people’s domestic life—might be revisioned as the very love of God. A God who cares so much as to desire to be present to us in everything we do. It is this God who speaks to us through the psalmist as he wakes from sleep, amazed, to declare, “I will bless you, Lord, you give me counsel, and even at night direct my heart” (Ps 16:7, GR). It is this God who speaks to us through the prophets, reminding us that by meeting the daily needs of the poor and vulnerable, characterized in the scriptures as the widows and orphans, we prepare the way of the Lord and make our own hearts ready for the day of salvation. When it comes to the nitty—gritty, what ties these threads of biblical narrative together into a revelation of God’s love is that God has commanded us to refrain from grumbling about the dailiness of life. Instead we are meant to accept it gratefully, as a reality that humbles us even as it gives us cause for praise. The rhythm of sunrise and sunset marks a passage of time that makes each day rich with the possibility of salvation, a concept that is beautifully summed up in an ancient saying from the monastic tradition: “Abba Poeman said concerning Abba Pior that every day he made a new beginning.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"
“My goal is to allow readers their own experience of whatever discovery I have made, so that it feels new to them, but also familiar, in that it is a piece with their own experience. It is a form of serious play.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“The task, and the joy, of writing for me is that I can play with the metaphors that God has placed in the world and present them to others in a way they will accept. My goal is to allow readers their own experience of whatever discovery I have made, so that it feels new to them, but also familiar, in that it is of a piece with their own experience. It is a form of serious play.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“I sense that striving for wholeness is, increasingly, a countercultural goal, as fragmented people make for better consumers, buying more bits and pieces—two or more cars, two homes and all that fills them—and outfitting one's body for a wide variety of identities: business person, homebody, amateur athlete, traveler, theater or sports fan. Things exercise a certain tyranny over us.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“What we perceive as dejection over the futility of life is sometimes greed, which the monastic tradition perceives as rooted in a fear of being vulnerable in a future old age, so that one hoards possessions in the present. But most often our depression is unexpressed anger, and it manifests itself as the sloth of disobedience, a refusal to keep up the daily practices that would keep us in good relationship to God and to each other. For when people allow anger to build up inside, they begin to perform daily tasks resentfully, focusing on the others as the source of their troubles. Instead of looking inward to find the true reason for their sadness - with me , it is usually a fear of losing an illusory control - they direct it outward, barreling through the world, impatient and even brutal with those they encounter, especially those who are closest to them.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“I found it enormously comforting to see the priest as a kind of daft housewife, overdressed for the kitchen, in bulky robes, puttering about the altar, washing up after having served so great a meal to so many people. It brought the mass home to me and gave it meaning. It welcomed me, a stranger, someone who did not know the responses of the mass, or even the words of the sanctus. After the experience of a liturgy that had left me feeling disoriented, eating and drinking were something I could understand. That and the housework. This was my first image of the mass, my door in, as it were, and it has served me well for years.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"
“I was mildly curious but clueless, and my husband—to—be and his friends were too hung—over to be of much help. They were mostly “lapsed” Catholics like my husband, the products of parochial schools in the 1950s and Jesuit colleges in the 1960s. They seemed vastly bored by the proceedings and had not gone forward to receive communion. But I watched the ceremony intently from far back in the big stone church. And at one point, I gasped. “Look,” I said, tugging on David’s sleeve. “Look at that! The priest is cleaning up! He’s doing the dishes!” My husband shrugged; others in the pew looked at me and then at him, as if to say—Dave, your girlfriend has gone soft in the head.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:21—23).”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"
“But the joke is on us: what we think we are only 'getting through' has the power to change us, just as we have the power to transform what seems meaningless—the endless repetitions of a litany or the motions of vacuuming a floor.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“My introduction to the Roman Catholic world was a full immersion baptism in the heady milieu of an Irish—American wedding. The man I was dating, who later became my husband, had invited me to attend the wedding ceremony of a high—school classmate, consisting of a weekend of dinners, parties and, of course, church. It was one of our first dates, a fact that now seems rich with God’s good humor.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"
“I recall the passage in the letter to the Hebrews in which we are reminded that Christ has already done everything for us. It speaks of the Christ who "offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 10:12). And yet the church teaches, and our experience of faith confirms, that Christ continues to be with us and to pray for us. The paradox may be unraveled, I think, if we remember that when human beings try to "do everything at once and for all and be through with it," we court acedia, self-destruction and death. Such power is reserved for God, who alone can turn what is "already done" into something that is ongoing and ever present. It is a quotidian mystery.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“As for laundry, I might characterize it as approaching the moral realm; there are days when it seems a miracle to be able to make dirty things clean.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“Seen in this light, what strikes many modern readers as the ludicrous attention to detail in the book Leviticus, involving God in the minutiae of daily life—all the cooking and cleaning of a people's domestic life—might be revisioned as the very love of God. A God who cares so much as to desire to be present in everything we do.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“Things are truly baggage, our impedimenta, which must be maintained with work that is menial, steady and recurring.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work
“This struck memory chords in me; seeking a life of the mind, I had more or less consciously rejected the 'girl stuff' that I associated with my mother in her kitchen. Now I realize that this rejection of the sanctity of daily tasks was self-defeating in the long run. It served to alienate me not only from the wisdom of my mother and grandmothers, but from the pleasure of cooking, serving and eating some very good food.”
Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work