In the Introduction to “Next to Godliness“, Alice Peck talks about a Commonplace Book; an old-fashioned term used to describe a journal of sorts, where one collected thoughts or phrases that effected daily life and gave a place to reflect upon them. Like a meme with a Facebook post attached. With this in mind, I thoroughly enjoyed how Ms. Peck put this book together. Anthology, collection or compilation, “Next to Godliness” is pleasantly organized. I enjoyed reflecting on a piece about laundry before getting on the task. Definitely sets the tone:).
Why did this book leap out at me? The inclusion of Thich Nhat Hanh’s thoughts on washing dishes was a piece I read last year and has stuck with me. Simplicity is so impossibly hard sometimes. Just wash the dishes. As a professional homemaker, hearth priestess and kitchen witch, I am always looking for perspective. I love my job, but like all careers, one can get stuck in a rut. I had hoped “Next to Godliness” would help nudge my spirits along. I mean, it is time for serious spring cleaning!
Thinking of my career choice as a professional homemaker, have to say, I love to sweep. I love the rhythm of going back and forth, looking and choosing where to go next, surveying the job at completion, fully knowing I will have to do it all over again in a few days. I don’t worry about sweeping. It’s always on the list. There is a goodness in sweeping. As stated on page 48 by Mother Teresa, “There should be less talk; a preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone’s house. That says enough.” Shut up and sweep. That always works.
We all can relate to the creation of “home”, however we define it. There is something very comforting about having the chores behind you. This is a book to be read, piece by piece, then returned to anytime you need perspective. With a broad range of thinkers from Gandhi to Starhawk to Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Next to Godliness” provides an array of support to the “Finding the Sacred in Housekeeping” part of the title. I found it a very enjoyable read that takes the drudgery out of the mundane and makes it sacred.