dishes in a drying rack

I’ll wash, the air can dry

Our dishwasher is on the fritz. It’s a relic and so it didn’t come as a surprise, just an inconvenient truth. And after digesting the initial disappointment, I was surprised to find myself entertaining the idea of delaying a replacement purchase. Maybe we don’t need a dishwasher, I thought.

Let’s be honest, there is a compelling financial reason for forgoing a technical cleaning aid. Also, there are only two of us in our household and, well, we won’t be entertaining large crowds for some time given the pandemic.

What I’ve also found is that the act of washing dishes is a meditation. It calms me. The simple physical act of moving my hands through the warm water brings me into the present moment. I must concentrate my attention and give care to protect fragile glasses. I move with slow precision to clean sharp knives. I notice the scent of the soap suds, which brings me back to simpler times.

I meditate on how the water yields, by turns filling up and running out of these containers. Flowing. Water is the element traditionally associated with the winter months. It teaches us the dual needs of harnessing and containing our resources, as we enter into the season of rest careful to maintain our stores and not let our cup run dry.

Suddenly the benefits of rest, of presence, are easier to attain. When I struggle to sit still on my meditation cushion, there’s always a teacup to clean.

For some, the chore of dishwashing was also a needed respite from the over-stimulation of socializing. The solitary act served as a way to take a break from the crowded dinner table, to retreat to the kitchen, to focus one’s thoughts, and recharge. It’s actually a brilliant salve. If holiday gatherings were still in the cards this year, I would most certainly add this to my mental health toolkit.

I may not replace the dishwasher any time soon, just don’t ask me to dry. There’s a perfectly good dish rack on the counter for that.

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