I cleaned out the fridge and scrubbed the kitchen and mudroom floors on Friday. It took the better part of the afternoon. I detected a slight inner agitation during the first half of the project and figured out the problem was that I felt this was a waste of time; I could be doing something "important."
Then I remembered what British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) said in his Christmas interview with William F. Buckley-that the happiest person of all is the woman who sweeps out her house to the glory of God. I stopped in my tracks, wet sponge in hand, and told God I was sorry, and that I would finish the job to His glory, praising him for my strong back.
Previously, while I had been scrubbing with anxiety, I had not been fully present in the task. My mind had been occupied in some hypothetical "important" living that I wanted to do. But after the fridge and the floor, the mail came and I had bills to pay and laundry to do and a couple of shirts that needed mending and a bedroom to clean after the recent departure of my relatives. That raised an interesting question: What is real life anyway, and do we ever get to it? What in the world did I have in mind when I wanted to get on to "real life"? It seems that "real life" is pretty much a sequence of small chores on a par with cleaning the kitchen.
Therefore, if these small things are the fabric of our days, and if we pass our days always focused on some imaginary future of "important" things while grumbling through the chore at hand, then we are never living. We are always postponing living because we do not consider this present moment valid life. A better way-God's way-is to live each mundane moment in a very conscious way to the glory of God. Washing the floor is not a parenthesis from actual living; it is the most noble and fulfilling of tasks if performed with thanksgiving.