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Thursday, January 03, 2008

I must confess up front that this is not truly a book, but a long essay (a lecture given at the Center for Spirituality at St. Mary's College, Notre Dame):

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work" by Kathleen Norris

I believe this is the only published "book" by Norris that I haven't read before. Her reflections on finding the holy in the midst of the ordinary felt very right today. I read most of it while soaking in the bathtub after I put the kids in bed. Towards the end of this work, Norris quotes one of my favorite poems, written by poet and RN, Laura Gilpin.

The Bath

I stand here bathing her
while she sleeps
in a far place beyond my reaching.

I bathe her
as I have been taught to do:
first the eyes, then the forehead,
the face, the neck.

And as I work
I talk to her--in case she hears me
(believing that hearing is the last to go).

I tell her--I don't know why
but I tell her the time, the day,
the season, what the weather is doing,

lifting each arm to wash and dry it,
laying it down again at her side,
then the chest, the abdomen, each leg.

She offers no resistance,
except that of gravity,
the earth pulling her
down while I lift,
as though something between us
is being weighed.

Then I turn her to wash her back
talking to her about what seems to matter
in this life--though I make no promises.

Only this morning
the promise of spring was in the air
and I tell her that.

5 Comments:

  1. Quotidian Grace said...
    This essay is what inspired the name of my blog!
    reverendmother said...
    Alex, this is amazing--my latest stack of library books includes this one!

    What are the chances...?
    Pink Shoes said...
    I loved this essay/book and tracked it down awhile ago -- I have quoted many times the early image of the priest cleaning up from communion. Fantastic.
    Gannet Girl said...
    I just noticed this book on my shelf last night when I was looking for another one -- I'm sure this confluence of events means I should read it!

    I'll do this challenge as long as I can count books read for school and books not quite finished.
    apbs said...
    If things like "Who Moved My Cheese" count as a book, this definitely does. It must have me written all over it, for some reason, because two different people have given it to me as a gift.

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