I am thankful for dirty dishes. I do, however, remember a time when this wasn’t always the case. When I was younger I would open the drawers in the kitchen pulling out all of the clean cutlery, only to throw it into the sink to re-wash. I wanted to impress my mom and dad by doing “chores,” but the idea of touching greasy, dirty dishes did not appeal to me so I thought washing already clean dishes was a brilliant solution.
My desire to wash the dishes has evolved from a six-year-old child wanting to impress my parents, to a twenty-four year old friend and roommate wanting to serve those around me. I lived in community for the first time this summer where I learned a lot about anticipating the needs of others in order to better serve them. One way this was consistently done was through washing one another’s dirty dishes. Whether we were scrambling to get to work on time, or cleaning up after our communal dinners, washing the dishes was one task we could never escape. This simple task became more than a daily necessity, it became an act of love. How? Because to serve another person is placing their needs before your own. Why are dirty dishes relevant?
“And during supper Jesus […] got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.” (John 13:2-5)
If Jesus is an exemplar of love, then in imitating his actions we become participants in his goodness. In our daily sacrifices and selflessness we train ourselves to grow in our capacity to love; this love can manifest itself in even the most trivial of tasks. How do we get there? We start with small acts of service. We start with small acts of discipline. I start with dirty dishes.