Crumbs of Gratitude
Last week I took a few minutes to thoroughly sweep all the nooks and crannies in our kitchen. Especially horrifying are the patches of floor under the chairs where my children sit to eat their meals. (Our beloved black lab, Sydney, passed away earlier in the year, so along with our built-in security system we also lost our automatic canine vacuum cleaner.) As I swept up the piles of crumbs – goldfish cracker sediment and other toddler-curated detritus – I felt a mixture of things. Shame, I won’t lie, was one of them. Like, why do I let the floors get this bad? But then I began to think about just what happens around that table, day in and day out. I thought of the prayers said around meals, our language-exploring two and four-year-olds, invoking the trinity to bless their mac and cheese. I thought of the friends, laughter, wine, and other victuals that have added their crumbs or splashes to the floor. I considered those things, and other memories, and soon thankfulness for the stories contained in those messes trumps my shame.
In these moments, my heart turns to gratitude, and my head finds a fitting word: Ritual. What is happening in that space, ordinary as it is? Ritual. Rituals form when we rehearse things so often that they become second nature. We can fall into almost a trance-like state singing a familiar hymn or reciting a well-known prayer. But these rituals are not only reserved for church; rituals go beyond the behavior and activities we save for the pews.
Speaking of ritual at home, a popular quote attributed to Martin Luther goes like this: “Whenever you splash your face with water in the morning, remember your baptism.” While that may or may not be Luther’s exact sentiment, it is a reminder that even at home (maybe especially?) we can remember the gifts of God.
Remembering is important, but we are human. So, when we forget God’s grace? Well, we can sweep up the crumbs. Not in order to praise ourselves for our tidied homes. But instead, to rejoice and celebrate the rituals of prayer, hospitality, and generosity that put those crumbs there in the first place.