Today is a day for tidying up my many piles of books. It is a day which should have come sooner but I have been managing to put it off for some time. Today is the day, though (if only because I had another book come through the door to read for church and I am in danger of being sucked into adding to the piles with yet another half-read book!).
But this tidying up thing is not as duty-filled a task as it sounds. You see, to clear the books I have to finish them first! So I have just read the remaining two chapters of Winner’s ‘Mudhouse Sabbath’. Well, I say remaining but it was actually two of the middle chapters…I have always had a weakness for reading the end before I get there!
Winner writes in chapter eight about aging and, more specifically, caring for those who are aging. She talks about caring for her sick mum – folding her laundry, collecting prescriptions and turning her mum’s mattress. Banal tasks. Well, not even banal actually. Hard work. Not, as Winner puts it, ‘consistently easy and delightful’. But she comments that she does it because she is obligated. It ‘is a sort of holy looking-after’. It’s ‘not always fun, but it is always sanctifying’.
Winner suggests that most ‘good and holy’ tasks, including this care for the elderly and sick, are ‘burning away our old selves and ushering in the persons God has created us to be’. It is interesting to contemplate.
And as I reflect, I begin to ask: what tasks am I obliged to complete and how can I look for the ‘holy’ in those?