WIDE MARGINSMy friend, Charlotte, and I were talking this morning about why it is that we are enjoying the process of simplifying our lives so much...discarding "progress" to do things the old-fashioned way. Why is it that kneading bread instead of using a bread maker, hanging laundry out to dry instead of throwing them into the dryer, canning food at home instead of buying it in a store, washing dishes by hand instead of using a dishwasher (and a myriad of other things), are so much more enjoyable, than their faster, more efficient counterparts?
In truth, I think we sacrifice a lot for the sake of convenience and saving time. While dishwashers, dryers, bread makers, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, and the like, all have their place and are wonderful inventions...we lose something valuable when we use them. We lose built in margins in our day. Kneading bread and waiting for it to rise does take time...but it is also theraputic. The slowing down, the tactile feeling of warm, yeasty dough under my hands, the pleasure of a simple task accomplished adds concrete value to my life.
It is so easy to be busy...running around trying to accomplish a multitude of tasks...but without any real satisfaction. Changing the way I think about my household tasks, and the way I perform them, has added simple pleasure to my day, as well as little moments to reflect, breathe, pray. The few moments taken to hang out laundry in the sunshine, to wash dishes by hand, to sweep the floor, offer up a much needed opportunity to re-center.
My last post eluded to to the struggle of the past week. It was really challenging. My house was a disaster, my children were out of sorts, and so was I. One of those days, Charlotte came over with her children and immediately began sweeping and straightening. I began working on the laundry. At one point, with my chin quivering, and tears barely contained, I told her that I was going to hang out the laundry. She later said "When you told me you were going to hang out the laundry, I knew it wasn't about trying to get housework done. You needed those moments alone, to recharge." She was absolutely right. Those ten minutes of quiet, out in the sun, praying and thinking, turned my day around. I wouldn't have gotten that if I had just thrown them in the dryer.
These changes I am making in my life are about much more than being eco-aware, or eccentric, or being counter-cultural. It is about maintaining the wide margins in my life that keep me calm, make my life more meaningful, and make me a better mother, wife, and friend. Doing things more simply teaches me to practice the presence of God...even during the most quotidian of tasks.