April 4, 2009


"When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God's breath hovering over the waters, God said, 'Let there be light.'" ~ Genesis 1:1-2 from the Robert Alter translation, Genesis

I don't read Hebrew, although I wish I could. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I pretend by reading Robert Alter's biblical translations. He endeavors to retain the poetic feel of the original.

Here's his note on "welter and waste": "The Hebrew tohu wabohu occurs only here and in two later biblical texts that are clearly alluding to this one.... Tohu by itself means emptiness or futility..."

Housework sometimes feels like that -- welter and waste, emptiness and futility. Then one day, I was folding the clothes. How many loads of laundry have I folded? Hundreds, certainly. But on this day, something new occurred to me. I looked at the pile of rumpled shirts and socks and sheets and underwear, and I thought of chaos.

Then I thought about other household tasks waiting to be completed. I thought about dirty bathrooms. Uncooked food. Littered floors. Full trashcans. Unmade beds. Chaos.

And then I thought about God. The whole cosmos was once nothing but chaos, welter and waste. The fundamental task of creation was bringing order out of chaos. The Word was spoken and there was light. The waters were divided by a vault and gathered together. There was dry land and grass and trees and fruit and evening and morning. Fish and birds and beasts and cattle and creeping crawling things. There were man and woman, you and me. There were -- and are -- variety and multitudes, but within and among and all through there is a strange and mysterious and indubitable order.

When I sweep and scrub and especially when I fold, I bring order out of chaos. It is hallowed work, God's work.


  1. Order. . . we are certainly wired to crave order in our lives. . . even the most free of spirit appreciate knowing where their cell phone is. . . LOL! But I love how you hit on the sacred part of our ordinary days. . . I was just wondering the same thing and asking "why Lord, why all the ordinary tasks, the repetition of wiping counters, tushies, toliets, garage floors, cleaning lint traps. . . " And you have given me that affirmation of what He was saying to me. . . it is holy work, to serve your family, to be a balm in their days because things get done, because order helps with the peace process, and it ultimately draws us to Him. .. . .thanks. LYLM

  2. I remember thinking to myself, what is so important about doing the laundry and why am I the only one that can fold and put away? I was touched by such a profound thought that entered only as I pondered it longer. I thought about the love I have for each of my childre and what an honor it is to wash their tiny little clothes, to be blessed to watch the clothes get bigger each year. To sit and compare how small my children's shirts were in comparison to mine and my husband's. At times I would find a tiny little sock tucked inside the sleeve of a larger shirt and think about how delicate they are and how quickly time passes. I could ask my husband for help, but I find laundry tasks so meditative, and I feel that it brings me such peace. I guess it is that same feeling that I get when I read that scipture that says, "Whatever you do to the least of my people, you do to Me." It truly is Christ's work we are doing. I love you!!! - Liela