Married to the Empire

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Finding the Spiritual through Housekeeping

I mentioned yesterday that I've lost a bit of the fire for keeping my home that I had years ago. As I'm one who is inspired by things I read, I think I'll be rereading Margaret Kim Peterson's Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life. I bought this book a couple of years ago after reading a review of it, and it really changed my perspective on housekeeping.

From the preface:
Keeping house can be a very mundane activity. It is certainly repetitive, and the kinds of work that it involves are varied enough that few people enjoy all of them equally. But at the very same time, housekeeping is about practicing sacred disciplines and creating sacred space, for the sake of Christ as we encounter him in our fellow household members and in neighbors, strangers, and guests.

Peterson presents the idea that much of the bible refers to the idea of home, whether it's God creating the world, making a home for the Jews in Isreal, setting up a home for Himself in the temple, or developing a longing within us for our spiritual homes. She points out that the priests had housekeeping duties within the temple (so the idea and act of keeping house is not exclusively a woman's task, as many of today's Christian housekeeping books try to make it). There is no agenda of trying to make women who work outside the home feel guilty for it or as if they are failing their families, as Peterson herself is a theologian, teacher, and academic. There is no idolization of the homekeeper. The purpose is to find Christ in everyday tasks and develop our spiritual gifts through the repetitive and seemingly ordinary.

Finding the spiritual in the everyday and growing closer to Christ in the process? That's a worthy goal.


Thirsty said...

Foster discusses what he calls "prayer of the ordinary" in his book Prayer that is very similar to this. We should swap books.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

Definitely! There's some book you talked about on your blog not too long ago that piqued my interest. Something about liturgical practices or something like that that we Baptists miss out on.

Thirsty said...

I checked out Tickle's "The Emergent Church" from your library. It's a macro discussion of church development. Maybe it was "Mudhouse Sabbath" by Winner. She was raised Jewish - I bet that's the one.

Oh, and I scrounged around and found (what unintentional assonance! - the joys of an English major!) a printout of a NYTimes article the discusses the value of "the drudgery of housework" (or something similar). It certainly isn't from a position of faith, but is somewhat parallel to the idea of redemptive monotony.

Thirsty said...

Ordered both Litany and my quasi-mezuzah yesterday & I'm excited about both. The online news article was only marginally relevant - she basically said that the repetition and boredom of it all is settling for her.