There is a mountain in my house. Ansel Adams would not want to take a picture of this mountain, and Sir Edmund Hillary would not want to climb it. It’s a mountain of laundry that grows day by day because I don’t have time to wash it and dry it.
I don’t have time to sort the delicate from the sturdy, the light from the dark, put it in the machine, add detergent and turn it on. Even if I did have time, it wouldn’t be that simple, because the door is broken and has to be slammed really hard to latch.
I have to slam the door so hard it hurts my hand, and my nosy dog Tink comes running to see what’s happening, barking and snapping at the door, and if she doesn’t get out of the way her little head is going to get slammed in the door. So I have to put her on top of the washing machine, slam the door as hard as I can, and start the machine.
If I don’t slam it hard enough, it doesn’t lock. The machine starts filling with water, but then it abruptly stops and emits a harsh “EEE EEE EEE” and the estimated time window displays “FL.” I don’t know what “FL” means. I guess it means “FAIL,” as in “you have failed to wash these clothes.” Or it means “you are a failure.” I suspect the latter.
There is a saying in Buddhism: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
I’m a Christian, but I think it still applies: “Before salvation, chop wood, carry water. After salvation, chop wood, carry water.”
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23
Unless and until you can afford to pay someone else to do it, you will be chopping wood and carrying water, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, cooking, cleaning and making beds for as long as you are still standing. This, too, is part of living a holy life.
For the most part, I am blessed by work. Every kind of work gives structure and purpose to my day, the work of the home, my job, volunteer work, all of it.
I don’t really mind laundry or cooking or cleaning, but I do mind the Sisyphean nature of housework, as in, not only is it never finished, but I can never catch up. As soon as I roll that boulder up the hill, it’s going to roll down even faster and bring a hundred more with it, that all have to be rolled back up the hill. It never ends.
There’s a lot of mountain climbers trapped inside of bodies of people behind the counter at Kinko’s. Henry Rollins
And it leaves so little time to follow my heart’s desires: writing and reading and working on my book ideas. I have lots of pipe dreams too, like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and crossing Canada on the Royal Canadian Pacific. They will probably stay in my pipe.
I need more time. I need an extra day, or a couple extra hours every day. Or I need to sleep less, but that never seems to work out. Whenever I start believing I’m Thomas Edison and I can get by on three or four hours a night, it’s not too long before I go down in flames.
I need a miracle, wherein I can go to work, clean my house and feed my family, and still have time to do all the things I want to do. I need more time. I need the sun to stand still.
But Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.” Matthew 21:21
Do you have trouble finding time to do the things you want to do? Am I just a whiner with first world problems?