the restorative power of domesticity

Our Lady of the Lost and Found (Diane Schoemperlen) goes back to the library today. Someone else has reserved it (perhaps one of you?). This has been such a clever book. I think every other page has a section I'd love to quote to you, but here is just one of them. The narrator is reflecting on what it's like to be cleaning her house alongside Mary, mother of Jesus, and I hear myself so much in every word:

As I have already said, I am a perfunctory housekeeper, tending to approach the whole enterprise with ambivalence at best and with seething resentment at worst. I have always thought of these tasks as being somehow separate from and at odds with my real life. And, while performing them, I am frequently bogged down by the knowledge that no matter what I do accomplish, it is essentially a futile exercise because it will not stay done for long. Whether this is part of my nature or simply a matter of long habit, I cannot say for sure. Maybe it's nothing more than a case of protracted adolescent rebellion against my mother, who was always cleaning something and seemed to derive inordinate amounts of satisfaction, pleasure, and pride from the never-ending eradication of dirt, dust, and all forms of untidiness.

Mary, too, tackled each new chore with fresh vigor. She actually seemed to be enjoying herself. But how often did she have to do housework anyway? I wondered. Perhaps even cleaning the toilet could be an amusing novelty if you only had to do it every twenty years or so.

Despite these rather unkind thoughts, still I suspected there was something important to be learned here. Mary seemed to approach housekeeping as an action, rather than a reaction. As she worked, it was clear that she was involved not in a process of negation (of dirt, dust, and the inevitable debris spawned by every activity of daily life) but of creation (of order, shiny surfaces, perfectly aligned towels, floors to which your feet did not stick). She seemed to have no doubt that what she was doing was important. She had faith, obviously, in the restorative power of domesticity.