Washing dishes is a meditative activity, for me. It calms me, quiets my mind and brings me into the present moment. At least it does on most occasions.
I was at my friend Sarah’s (fake name) house to support her in caring for her elderly mother. Seeing a kitchen full of dishes I chose to make that my first task. Sarah, as she does occasionally, tried to stop me from doing them. However, she always surrenders easily enough, knowing it’s one less thing she has to deal with.
Checking my washing
This time, however, things went a little differently. As she was hanging out in the kitchen she was mumbling about needing to check the work. I wasn’t sure if she was talking about my dish washing or something else.
Turns out, it was my dish washing.
Five minutes into washing, she starts checking what I’ve cleaned that’s sitting in the drying rack. Now if there’s one thing I know, I’m a mean, clean dish washer. In fact, I’m so confident, I’ll go suds to suds with anyone in a dish washing contest.
Screaming in my head
As she’s checking the dishes my inner calm turned to upset. The upset turned to anger. As the anger was building in me, I wanted to scream at her.
The voice in my head sounded something like this:
“What the hell is your problem?!”
“I come here to support you when you need help and you do this!”
“I’ll finish the damn dishes and then I’m outta here!”
And you thought I was all peace, love and happiness.
When she finally left the kitchen I thought, “That’s right! Not a piece of food to be found anywhere on those dishes. That’ll teach you to check what I wash!”
The lightbulb moment!
Taking a deep breath, I suddenly found myself feeling tremendous remorse realizing how swiftly my ego reared its ugly, judgmental and nasty voice. It was remarkable to notice how I let Sarah’s action turn my peace completely upside down.
The truth is, she had every right to check the dishes if that’s what was going to make her feel better. Even if she were to ask me to do some over again, so what. They’re her dishes and I know cleanliness is really important to her.
And, she didn’t ask me to do the dishes. In fact, she tried to stop me.
When I calmed down and was finished washing, Sarah came back into the kitchen and thanked me, saying, “I so appreciate everything you’re doing for me.”
I didn’t share my prior thoughts with her. I didn’t feel the need to since my mind’s reaction was all on me. And it didn’t get by me that shortly after I laid down my internal ego attack on her, she thanked me.
A lesson to remember
One of the daily lessons in A Course In Miracles is;
“Only my condemnation injures me.”
I have found this to be true over and over again. Each time I put down my sword and bring myself back to center, I am reminded that no one has the power to take my peace away except me. That peace is disturbed by the perception and meaning I attach to an outer circumstance.
My condemning thoughts did not bring injury to Sarah in the moment. Only to me. And it hurt like hell. Therefore, since I created the pain with my condemning thoughts it was my responsibility to release them.
Sarah had her own condemnation going on and ultimately released hers, too. In the end, we found ourselves standing as one, with peace in our hearts.