This familiar scene most of you will know, and today it occurred to me how relaxing this time can be. Usually the never-ending pile of dishes frustrates me, washed in the morning, all nice and clean and sparkling, only to back there on the mountain by the evening filthy and ready for more washing.
The buddhists teach of the impermanence of all things, and the fundamental nature of things, just like our dishes which when clean, will get dirty again. That is their job, their role, to be used and made dirty. Their nature you could say. As a parent, my natural way of being is to clean up after April and Sonny, that is my nature, my role.
I’ve started to think about this, and slowly come to terms with cleaning the dishes. I can use it as time-out from the busy day. Each dish needs special attention, was that bowl used by Sonny this morning? Ah yes, I can see the porridge underneath it! Sneaky, but I have time for it, and to be expected, that’s a 2 year olds nature, to spread the food far and wide. This cup, used only once for drinking water then thrown in the pile, can do with just a short wipe and we are done. The porridge pot…. well that deserves its very own paragraph.
How parents hate the porridge pot! Sticky, hard but soft, clogging up the brush, or the scourer, nothing will clean the porridge pot well on its own. But together, a combination of brush first, then scourer, then brush, then clean both brush and scourer. How clean! What a change from the mess before, how satisfying. I leave the pot for last, normally because I hated it, but now its the ultimate challenge, dare I say rush?, to clean that pot.
Like most things in life its about attitude, you can choose to accept, or fight and winge and complain the whole journey.
And it doesn’t need to just be the dishes which give us some Zen, any housework, any menial task is perfect for practising some Zen and mindfulness.
Recently my wife Nella bought a couple of interesting books, Buddhism for Mothers and its second instalment Buddhism for Mothers with Lingering Questions, which I’ve been reading as well, and lo and behold, the same discussion came up , with really interesting personal stories and experiences. Worth a read.
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