We’ve just finished our movie, and my friends mingle and drink tea in the living room behind me. I stand before a sink piled high with dirty dishes. Rolling up my sleeves, I begin transferring the mess into one side of the stainless steel basin. My friends bustle about me, tidying up counter space or wiping down the stove. They take turns picking songs on someone’s laptop, and the sound of old rock guitar drifts through the apartment. I finish filling the sink with water and soap, just past the edge of too-hot-to-be-comfortable, and begin washing.
As I lose myself in the rhythm of dunk/scrub/rinse/dry, I can’t help but be reminded of John the Baptist, taking each Israelite into the Jordan. Dunk/scrub/rinse/dry/amen.
And so it goes, a dozen tiny baptisms, shrinking the teetering tower of plates and silverware, one by one. Tea-Plate, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
That’s my favorite part of it, honestly. There’s a Zen-like satisfaction in seeing the stack dwindle, replaced to the right by splendidly clean baking sheets, plates, and chipped mugs. I feel the gristle and dried bits of food melt away under my fingers as I scrub. Washing dishes isn’t so much a chore as it is an exercise in redemption.
It may be a small blow against entropy, a welterweight punch against a cosmic Mike Tyson, but I love it all the same. I find such peace in the restoration of dirtied things, and nights like these, when the voices of my friends bounce across the room, undercutting the quiet music with music of their own. I have a great stack of honestly dirtied things before me. Tonight, washing dishes is practicing restoration.