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The Quotidian

“Quotidian” is a word I haven’t used before.  It derives from Latin and refers to dailiness, mundane.  Kathleen Norris, a spiritual writer, has a book called The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work.

The title reminds me of dish towels I embroidered in my childhood illustrating in brightly colored thread the weekly rituals of laundry day, baking day, etc.  The week was organized into household tasks, and my mother followed a structure for homemaking, meals, just as Sunday church followed the liturgical calendar.  I fled both, but can still recount the days-of-the-week for certain meals, the Sundays of the year for liturgical observances.

Yet here we all are, mired in the quotidian.  I listened to a recent interview with Kathleen Norris, and it turns out even those who are cloistered have been impacted by the virus’ observances.  A new recruit to a cloistered order had a socially-distanced laying-on-of-hands, then quarantined himself for fourteen days before joining the community’s rituals.  Learning that even cloistered communities are impacted helps me appreciate the universality of this experience of isolation, a paradox.

My malaise has derived, in part, from my inability to plan.  We have, perhaps, all anticipated the next trip, the next visit, the next performance, the next meal out with friends.  In returning to writing, even for this post, I stake a future claim.  We can plan for the future, even if the exact date our plans can be realized is unknown.

The alternative is indulging the apocalyptic, and I have over-indulged the news cycles.  I understand better, now, why other societies blamed witches or sorcerers or found God’s wrath visited upon a people. We still go through those motions, finding different scapegoats. I think about karma for Mother Earth, the inevitable consequences of ignoring science, and wish for the consequences to fall where I think they should, instead of where they may.

For now, I will indulge the quotidian, which provides grounding, structure, a ritual for marking time.      

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