My sister-in-law, Leah, is an avid reader. She reads just about every book as soon as it comes to print. For Christmas, she bought me this book by Kathleen Norris called, The Quotidian Mysteries. That word–“quotidian”–is funny sounding to me. Makes me giggle inside. It means “occurring every day; ordinary; commonplace.”
I get bored of washing dishes, changing diapers, wiping the counter clean, and especially of vacuuming up dog hair–just so they can get dirty again in a matter of minutes. I forget to acknowledge the blessing of owning a home, having a child, a dishwasher and a dog. These ordinary things in my life, if I’m not careful, can become a curse instead.
I think this may be why some people try a new life. A new career. New hair. New car. New house. New partner or spouse. They get bored of the one they have.
In her book, Norris calls this acedia, which means “spiritual apathy.” A hatred for the every-day tasks, places and people that can make us feel claustrophobic in our little lives. She says, “It is a quotidian mystery that dailiness can lead to such despair and yet also be at the core of our salvation.” In a recent study, one of the most prominent commonalities of successful marriages was the simple act of kissing your spouse at the beginning and end of every day…whether you feel passionately “in love” or not. She likens the regularity of cleaning house, doing “women’s work,” and marriage with the daily routine of prayer, or liturgy.
I pray before most meals. I try to remember to pray before I fall asleep. I pray for my friends and family as they come to mind throughout the day. I pray over Finn while I tuck his limp legs into bed. I don’t always feel the presence of God when I pray. I may not even realize what I’m doing.
But sometimes I do. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with the realness and rawness of my prayers and the Lord’s subsequent goodness to remind me that He’s listening. He’s near. Immanuel.
Since reading this book, I’m trying to find honor and joy in what were once daily drudgeries. Beauty in the bubbles that surround the kitchen sink. Blessing in unloading so many dishes that allow me to prepare meals for my family. A husband for whom I blush. A son who fills my heart with wonder and joy. A dog who makes me laugh.
Kathleen says it best:
“We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were. We must look for blessings to come from unlikely, everyday places…and not in spectacular events” (Norris, p. 12).