Blessed are those who sweep and scrub for they will find joy in the rhythm of the ordinary.
No, you won't find this verse in The Beatitudes in Matthew 5, but perhaps it was left out by mistake or the women cooking Matthew's meals and doing his laundry didn't have his ear the day he worked on that chapter. No problem, I'll just add it.
On Monday evenings I attend a program at Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality, a Ministry of the Sisters of St Joseph of Carondolet in St Paul. The sessions are part of the Hedgerow Initiative http://wisdomwayscenter.org/hedgerow-initiative-spring-2014.html which offers programming in "feminist theological education, spiritual integration and leadership for a just and holy world." The name is derived from the hedgerow schools in Ireland that "kept alive the language, faith, culture and community of the people during the time of the British penal codes.
The current series examines the Sunday Gospels from Matthew and John and asks, "What wisdom can we find in the Story and ourselves. What wisdom can we weave to hold us together?"
Wisdom in the Scriptures
Last evening we focused on the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7, which includes the verses known as the Beatitudes. Many of the women there, for yes, we are an all female group, related how they had memorized them in Sunday School or Confirmation class. I don't recall doing that, but I had no trouble reciting a couple, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God," and "Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God." I suspect they are familiar verses to many regardless of one's faith tradition or background.
Our leader, Joan Mitchell, an extremely bright and knowledgeable scholar, presented these chapters as wisdom literature, offering us precepts for how to live, how to grow through ongoing seeking and searching. Furthermore, she suggested The Beatitudes are generative, meaning we can create more. What is written in the scripture is dynamic and is constantly revised and re-interpreted, depending on what the reader, the seeker brings to the words, The Story.
Finding Our Own Wisdom
As I walked the few blocks home on one of the few nights of this winter when being outside was pleasant, my own Beatitudes rose from my heart.
Blessed are the list makers, for they will stay calm in the rush of demands and will find peace in the priorities.
Blessed are those who turn off their phones, for they will be present.
Blessed are those who wait for spouses and children and repair people and who wait in lines at the grocery store, post office, and Target, for they will develop patience.
Blessed are those who read, for they will never be alone and will find nourishment in new thoughts and ideas.
Blessed are those who so often feel overwhelmed by choices or possibilities or needs, for they will feel overjoyed with opportunities.
Blessed are those with grandchildren, for they will revive with new love and life.
And a new one this morning:
Blessed for those who listen to their bodies and turn off the alarm, for they will awaken refreshed and restored.
Today I return to my father's house for more of the sweeping and scrubbing necessary before putting the house on the market. My body is not eager for the hands and knees work required today, but I will take with me my new personal Beatitude, "Blessed are those who sweep and scrub, for they will find joy in the rhythm of the ordinary."
I invite you to create your own Beatitudes. In what ways are you blessed? What do you see around you that is ripe for a blessing? Become your own Matthew and discover your own wisdom.