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  • Sarah Raad

Washing-up

“Believe that He loves you. He wants to help you Himself in the struggles which you must undergo. Believe in His Love, His exceeding Love.” (Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity).

Saint Therese of the Holy Face and Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity

The other day, I was supervising my daughter washing-up the dishes after dinner. She is only eight years old, but I have started the work of teaching her (and her brothers) how to complete chores around our home.


As I watched her working, I was struck by the cumbersome way she was handling the job. After all – I thought to myself – I could definitely wash those dishes far more efficiently than this little girl. But I persisted with the activity because I know that she will need to learn this skill for her own good!


Firstly, she is much shorter than I am and so it is quite a bit more effort for my daughter to actually reach the sink to start with and that does not even mention reaching across the bench for all the items needing washing. Secondly, she is less strong than I am and lifting and moving and reshuffling all the items is simply a more difficult task for her than it would ever be for me. And thirdly, she is much less experienced than I am at washing dishes. This means that she often leaves spots uncleaned and is required to re-wash the same item over and over again until it is clean enough to dry and pack away.


Each time I asked her to re-wash the dishes, she protested a little with a huff and a puff – not very much, just a little – but then got to work with the washing. You see, never having had serious food poisoning, my daughter had no idea of the risks she was taking in leaving dishes imperfectly clean.


I have been reflecting on this action since I watched her at her work. You see, I spent much of my time asking her to re-wash dishes over and again, because I knew that if she left them dirty we would later all get sick from food poisoning!

This action of my daughter is like my action with God.

You see, when God tells me to re-do my work – for my own good – I too huff and puff a little bit (or a lot). I too complain that all my efforts have come to nothing, and I too try to rebel. And my God stands there at the sink – much as I did with my daughter the other day – and calmly and lovingly prompts me and encourages me with GRACE to continue, to persevere and to do it again!


Because – just as I understand the dangers of food poisoning better than my daughter does – my Beloved understands the dangers of eternal damnation better than me. And this takes great faith to trust in this. And now I can understand the words that Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity wrote, “Believe that He loves you. He wants to help you Himself in the struggles which you must undergo. Believe in His Love, His exceeding Love.”


Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity was a Carmelite nun, who entered Carmel after reading Saint Thérèse of Lisieux’s yet unpublished autobiography, “Story of a Soul”. And although Saint Elizabeth lived after Saint Thérèse had already entered into Heaven, her life mirrored that of the earlier Saint through her illness, writing and attitude of faith. She wrote, “It seems to me that I have found my Heaven on earth, since Heaven is God and God is in my soul. The day I understood that everything became clear to me. I wish to tell this secret to those whom I love so that they also, through everything, may also cling to God...”


And so, as I reflect on the action of faith as I watch my little girl with the washing-up, I think of these words of Saint Elizabeth, and I find that I can “Believe in His Love, His exceeding Love.”


For what beautiful love it is…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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