I love to cook. I haven’t always loved cleaning the kitchen.
Dave and I have an agreement regarding post-dinner time: he takes the kids upstairs for baths and showers, I clean up the kitchen.
For the first few years, this was an efficient and logical arrangement, but not a particularly happy one for me – even though it was my suggestion. Sometimes I resented that I was the one cooking and cleaning. Most days though, I just wanted more time to relax and read or watch a show. But the more I’ve worked on cultivating gratitude, the less resentment I feel. The more I practice seeing the divine in the ordinary, the less ordinary it feels.
I have my post-dinner rituals. First I completely clear the table and cooking/prep surfaces, moving everything next to the sink. I’m grateful for a sturdy table and six healthy bodies (or more!) that enjoy good food and conversation around it each day.
I spray and wipe down the table, cooktop, and counters. I’m grateful to have access to a variety of fresh, local, whole foods and all of these pans and pots and appliances and tools.
I rinse each dish and load it into the dishwasher. I’m grateful for the flexibility in my job that allows me to be home with the kids each afternoon, and to make dinner for our family each evening.
I take one last minute to relocate things that have landed on the counters throughout the day, setting everything back in its proper place. On an evening when the kitchen is unusually messy from extra places at the table or a complicated recipe, these finishing touches are even more satisfying.
This is the place where I feed my family. This is where the girls love to make guacamole and vegan “meatballs,” and the boys love to make energy bites and any variety of bread. This is where Dave and I sometimes have a few moments of quiet before they wake up. This is where we’ve broken bread with dozens of friends and family members from near and far. This is where we’ve experimented with different eating challenges and hundreds of recipes (my sweet family has endured a lot of ahem–variety–in our food choices). This is the room in our home where I spend the most time in any given day, except for sleeping.
This is where with soapy hands my mind settles, thoughts wander, and God sometimes speaks to me. The quiet affords space to reflect on the day, considering what was life-giving and what was life-taking. I offer an unconventional, rambling stream of prayers and silence. I consider moments when I did not choose kindness, and reaffirm my intention to choose kindness tomorrow. These evening rituals have become a sacrament for me, the ground–holy.
And each evening as the kids head upstairs and voices fade away, this sacrament of cleaning and restoring everything to its proper place imparts a sense of peace. I know I can rest deeply and when I wake, the kitchen will be ready for us to make another delicious mess of it all tomorrow.
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