Angel Wings

When I was a kid, there seemed to be an invisible fairy who made the house run smoothly. If I left a mess in the playroom, it was gone by morning. Somehow breakfast appeared on the table, and I always had clean clothes to wear. Presto! Magic (also pronounced “mom”).

One of the most novel phenomena about moving into my college apartment was discovering that no invisible fairy lived there. When I dumped clothes on the floor at night–how bizarre!–they were still there in the morning. If I didn’t get off the couch in the afternoon, there was still no dinner ready by evening. But a lot of the tasks required to keep a home running are quite menial, and I still don’t look forward to them. My personal un-favorites: scrubbing the tub and cleaning out moldy vegetables from the refrigerator. Mmm.

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out

I did learn, however, that those tasks are crucial to preventing messes. (See Shel Silverstein poem: “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out.”) Over time, I started developing a sixth sense: housekeeping. I almost felt invisible fairy wings growing from my back.

This week, a lot of things have needed doing at my house. With my grandma moved in and guests and relatives in and out through a revolving door, the task list just seems to grow and grow. All those people need to eat, need laundry done, need places to sleep, need attention and care. These tasks range from the menial to the yucky to the exhausting. Before I grew the fairy wings, I might not have noticed all those things that needed doing. Even still, my instinct revolts, I have better things to do! But this week, I have been blessed to witness many acts of service, from a dear friend who brought us dinner, to my brother quietly standing at the sink washing plates, to my mom blitzing through a 4-hour grocery shopping marathon on all of our behalf.

I was reminded that really, it’s not about clean plates or a stocked fridge. Those are the things you can see. But those menial housekeeping–or perhaps home-keeping–tasks are really expressions of love for one another. I know love is what keeps me going when chopping zucchini for dinner seems like a waste of time. It’s not just zucchini. It’s love for my family, making sure they have a hot dinner to come home to, a way of offering comfort to them after a long day. It doesn’t always make those unpleasant tasks pleasant, but it endows them with a sense of significance and worth.

I even think that housekeeping tasks can be acts of worship. Colossians 3:23-24 is one of my favorite verses, because it seems to apply in all circumstances: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…it is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Wash dishes for God? Maybe God doesn’t benefit from the clean dishes…but He loves a heart that does every little thing in service to Him. Taking out the garbage can be like singing a hymn if it’s done for a God who sees what is done in secret.

So don’t give up on chopping zucchini, on picking up messes, on endless piles of laundry. Maybe the wings you wear when working that magic are less for a fairy…and more for an angel.

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