What I Learned From Drying Dishes

Drying a dish

What I Learned From Drying Dishes

By Loren L. Fenton, D.Min.

A Sacred Ritual – Every Day – Every Meal!

I honestly don’t remember how old I was when someone first put a dishtowel in my hands.  Doing the dishes was a sacred ritual at our house.  Absolutely every meal – breakfast, dinner, and supper – ended with Mama running hot water into pans she placed in the kitchen sink, then start gathering dirty plates, bowls, silverware, and other items from the table.

Everybody had a job

Mama directed the subsequent events like a master choreographer, spelling out instructions to her crew with precision and clarity.  We all had our assignments.  One child would wash, one would sweep the floor, another would deliver the dirty stuff from the table to the washer.  My job was to dry.

Fifty-some years later I’m still drying dishes!  I never knew it way back then, but apparently it was one of those life commands that forms our character and determines our destiny.  I was thinking about this the other day and realized that, in fact, I’d learned many important things from this humble activity.  With apologies to Robert Fulghum, since I didn’t go to kindergarten, everything I really needed to know I learned while drying dishes.

The Lessons of Life from Drying Dishes

Here are a few of those life lessons:

  • Working together is better than working alone
  • Big bowls stack better on the bottom
  • Order is better than chaos
  • Organization doesn’t happen by itself
  • The dishes don’t wash or dry themselves, either
  • Even monster jobs can be completed one step at a time
  • Accidents happen. Don’t worry if something breaks.  Just get the broom and clean it up.
  • It feels good to finish the job.