I’m still amazed by how it happened. How I recognised so much beauty in something so simple and ordinary. It was the closest thing I had encountered to the sacred and yet, for many others I am certain it would have meant nothing, perhaps gone unnoticed even.
I was standing at the kitchen sink rinsing away the residue of that afternoon’s meal. My mind was on a million and one other things that were waiting to be done that week. There was grocery shopping to be done, one of the children’s bedrooms needed re-decorating and that was going to be a nightmare operation, there were deadlines at work that still hadn’t been met, and there were those e-mails I kept promising myself to write to someone somewhere I had begun to lose touch with.
The soapy warm water was comforting. I love it when it’s just the right temperature that it makes you want to run a warm bath and immerse your whole body into that perfumed lagoon away from the piles of homework that’s waiting for assistance, the basket-loads of laundry, and the non-stop noise of family life. I love hand washing the dishes. We have a dishwasher of course, but there’s something very therapeutic about physically scraping away the left-overs into the bin, washing the utensils, and renewing everything for another day.
I do my day-dreaming at the kitchen sink. It is there that extraordinary moments and thoughts enter my mind. I’ve often wondered how it is possible to be moving through time and space and at the same time be transported to another space, where memories come to life and moments in our past are relived and remembered in fleeting milli-seconds before we are transported back to the present. Are these moments hints of the celestial in our earthly lives? The divine in the human? The kairos in our chronos?
Something caught my eye through the kitchen window and it brought me back to the sudsy water and the greasy plates. I think it might have been a football. United were winning by five or six nil at this stage and were miraculously achieving this in my back garden with only the one striker (a leftie, which he tells me is what all the best strikers are), no mid-fielders, no defence and no goal-keeper. “Oh Yes!” he shouted, “he’s done it again, the crowd is going wild. United, United!” I chuckled to myself. I love the way they don’t notice that they are being watched by us at all. They are so engrossed in their imaginings and the whole thing is so real to them that they too are transported to that place where our imaginations live, where we seem to visit less and less as we get older but remember spending most of our childhood.
I love to listen to their conversations when I’m driving. They know you are there in the car too but they always seem to forget that you can hear everything. It is so funny and I often wish I had a dictaphone with me to record some of their chatter. “I thought Ms Treacy (his teacher) was going to blow a gasket.” “So did I!” “And did you see the look on Darren’s face?” “Yeah, he won’t live that down for a long time.” “And we won’t let him.” I hear sniggering. “Do you think Ms Treacy fancies Mr Finlay?” “Course she does, do you not see the way she laughs at all his jokes even though they’re not funny and gets all girlie when he comes into the class room?” “Yeah, and Mr Finlay’s married you know?” “I know!”
The water was not as warm now. I had been day-dreaming again and I had not noticed that I too was being watched from the doorway. I don’t know how long he had been standing there, looking at me just standing there with my hands in dirty dish water staring off into some nowhere and everywhere land. “Everything ok?” he asked. And, as he crossed the space between us and placed his hand on the small of my back, I answered “everything’s beautiful, just beautiful.”