I know it will sound weird. I found it odd as I was doing it. Yet at the same time it seemed like the right thing to do. I was singing praise songs as I was cleaning my home.
Yes, it’s one thing to sing while vacuuming, as the sound of the machine drowns out any other noise. But singing Glory & Praise to Our God while scrubbing the toilet, shower and tub did seem incongruous. I had one voice saying that the work was not appropriate for the song; another voice was quoting scripture reminding me of what St. Paul wrote to the Phillippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice.” (Phil 4:4) Cleaning, especially the bathroom, is one of my least favorite chores, second only to taking out the trash. I don’t mind laundry, grocery shopping, or vacuuming. I enjoy cooking and baking, so I actually find them fun. If offered the option to clean a baked/burned on cheesy mess from a casserole pan versus the bathroom, I will take the casserole pan (and any other dishes with it) hands down. Oddly enough, I think that if I did sing while cleaning the dishes, I wouldn’t find it strange to praise God in that moment.
As I continued singing, moving onto O God Our Help in Ages Past, one of my favorites, I was still wrestling with whether or not it was sacrilegious. I recalled St. Thérèse once taught that you needed to do the little things with love. It’s hard to do something you wish to avoid with love. I know it needs to be done, it’s not like I’m not going to do it, and it’s really only for my benefit, so does it matter if I do it with love? Well, yes, it does, because it’s a matter of attitude. I found that when I was finished, instead of being tired and relieved that the chore was completed, I felt joyful that it was accomplished and did say a Glory Be in thanksgiving. I also found that I had a little extra time to myself to knit a few more rows in my current project.
I do listen to Christian music quite regularly, yet realized that the songs I was singing were not those I heard recently, but songs learned as a child. These were hymns taught for Masses in which my class participated, and regular practices were conducted until we learned them. While there are many modern songs that come to mind from time to time, they seem to drift in and out of my head. However, these hymns are woven into the fabric of my being as they became part of my journey learning the faith. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that when God is trying to teach me something, He goes back to the basics.
Just because a task is unpleasant doesn’t mean that God is not right there with you. For activities that we like to do, praising God can come naturally in the midst of them. Some may find mowing the lawn to be a time for meditation and reflection. Others may dread that as a chore. Perhaps adding a dash of love and a smidgen of praise to these domestic activities, we can find the recipe to make them less burdensome and more of a blessing.