I finally tracked down a copy of The Quotidian Mysteries and am really enjoying the short (88 pages) but profound read so far. Even though I know that everything can be worship to the Lord, gentle reminders are so helpful. My daily tasks don’t have to limit or define me as a mom or wife, but they can be appreciated and valued in the context of my relationship with God. Quotidian means “occurring every day; belonging to everyday; commonplace, ordinary.” The author, Kathleen Norris, is also a poet so this book has a flow and rhythm that resonates like a poem. She shares how the acts of the daily tasks of a woman (washing, cooking, cleaning, laundry) can structure our days similar to the liturgical prayers of certain Christian circles. However, there was one quote that she added which has stayed in my mind for a few days and it has nothing to do with chores or duties or womanhood.
She references St. Teresa of Avila who said: “Thank God for the things that I do not own.” I had never heard that quote before and it really struck me. Have I ever taken time to thank God for the things that I don’t have? Often I get stuck on what He has provided or done or given, but where can I practice gratitude for what is not there? Here is a short list of things I am thankful that I don’t have:
1. I don’t have any debt. Although we use credit cards (mainly to build up mileage points for trips to visit family) my husband is vigilant to pay them off completely at every cycle. We purchased our cars outright, don’t have mortgage, and didn’t go to college so have no school loans. When unexpected expenses pop up, we have been frugal with our spending and can use savings instead of taking on debt. It is so freeing to know that some bank or financial institution can’t limit what we do with our lives.
2. I don’t have ongoing sickness, health problems, or physical limitations.
3. I don’t have to work in a job that I hate just because I need the money.
4. I don’t have a closet full of clothes. Speaking of laundry, I’ve realized the simple truth of less clothes = less laundry. While I’ve pared down my wardrobe to about two dozen items (and living in a temperate climate makes it easy to not have to buy items that are only worn during certain seasons, like winter jackets), my kid’s dresser drawers are full of items they hardly ever wear. Hunter and Madison have their favorite outfits that they wear over and over, while the rest of the tops and bottoms sit untouched. Recently I went through Madison’s closet and packed up a trash bag full of clothes to give away to a friend whose daughter is moving up in clothing size. Why have the clothes sit in our closet and not be worn when they can be a blessing to another family instead?
5. I don’t have a lot of stuff. Over Christmas we visited both Scott’s and my families. Staying with various relatives opened my eyes to the obsession that some people have with their stuff. Whole sections of houses were dedicated to storing stuff, and huge portions of their time was used to care for said stuff. It was shocking and a bit unnerving. Once we returned home I felt like I was coming out from under a cloud weighted down with possessions and trinkets and doo-dads. The less stuff I have, the more time I can spend with the people I love and do the things I enjoy. I have especially been aggressive with stuff in regards to the kids’ toys. There is a small collection in the house right now (legos, doctor stuff, dinosaurs, Nerf guns, and a basket of Leah’s toy), and everything else is stored in the garage. The kids play with what’s in the house and every few months we rotate. If they see something they like in the garage then they trade from what’s in the house to be able to bring the stored toys inside. The same trend appears here as well – the less toys they have to play with, the more they do with them.
This list is not exhaustive nor comprehensive, but it is a starting point of gratitude for what I don’t have in my life. I have room for so much more when I have so much less.