Next to Godliness: Finding the Sacred in Housekeeping

Overview

Explore the place where clean and holy meet—and chart a new course toward discovering sanctity.

“I’ve always sought solace in cleaning.... As my husband and I packed up our apartment and cleaned the profound dust of the Twin Towers from our books and pillows, we used this shared ritual as an opportunity to reflect and heal. As my neighbor once said, ‘Cleaning house is my church.’”
—from the Introduction

Be they our kitchens after a meal or our communities after a crisis, we all ...

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Overview

Explore the place where clean and holy meet—and chart a new course toward discovering sanctity.

“I’ve always sought solace in cleaning.... As my husband and I packed up our apartment and cleaned the profound dust of the Twin Towers from our books and pillows, we used this shared ritual as an opportunity to reflect and heal. As my neighbor once said, ‘Cleaning house is my church.’”
—from the Introduction

Be they our kitchens after a meal or our communities after a crisis, we all face the times—and opportunities—when we must clean up. Through a beautiful, diverse and eclectic array of personal narratives, fiction, sacred texts and verse, this inspiring book offers new perspectives on the unique ways we can reach out for the Divine within the simple acts of washing the dishes, doing the laundry, making a home and more. Giving the process of cleaning house depth and resonance, these writings will speak to your heart and allow you to see beyond the task at hand and into a greater undertaking—to realize the sacred in all that we do.

From sweeping the home, to organizing the office, to cleaning up the more daunting “Big Messes” in our communities, this engaging book touches upon every facet of our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Detroit Free Press
From one of the most innovative religious publishers comes a book that many readers may skip over in stores. Inspiration in housekeeping? But Peck's breadth of vision in choosing dozens of selections on this timeless theme turn the book into a cultural landmark exploring our changing attitudes about home.
—David Crumm
The Washington Post
As the Book of Ecclesiastes says, there is "a time to keep, and a time to throw away." And a new collection of writings about the serenity -- indeed, the spirituality -- to be found in creating order at home suggests that the time for the latter is now.
"Next to Godliness" (Skylight Paths Publishing, $19.99), compiled and edited by Alice Peck, is not a guide to how to clean but a thoughtful, surprising anthology that aims to inspire us to think differently about how we keep our domestic space.
—Ron Charles
Publishers Weekly
In recent years Americans have had a renewed love affair with their homes, so it's no surprise to discover new attentiveness to cleaning them. This collection of tidbits from essays, fiction and poetry that reference housecleaning, compiled by an editor and producer in the television industry, explores everything from Booker T. Washington scolding Negroes who kept house poorly to the "big mess" made by the attacks on the Twin Towers. The book, from a multifaith and multicultural perspective, includes everything from the obvious and well-known (Thich Nhat Hanh and Brother Lawrence on washing dishes) to the less expected (Jarvis Jay Masters writing about cleaning his cell on death row). Some pieces have only the most tenuous connection to housekeeping, much less what's sacred about it, such as the excerpt from Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain, where cleaning serves primarily as backdrop. While many excerpts are intriguing, the collection is largely unprocessed, with only brief introductions to the sections on washing dishes, laundry, sweeping and so forth, and no introductions to the individual excerpts. While each piece includes some aspect of housekeeping, the reader is left not quite knowing what to make of the whole. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594732140
  • Publisher: Skylight Paths Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/1/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,295,251
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Alice Peck is an innovative editor and writer. She serves as a consultant to many published authors and produced screenwriters. She spent years writing, developing and acquiring material for broadcast and cable television as well as feature films before devoting herself to writing and editing books.

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Table of Contents


Introduction     xi
Washing the Dishes
"Bathing a Newborn Buddha"     3
Sacrament     5
Cadence     7
"Doing the Dishes"     8
"Clearing the Table"     10
Laundry
"At Last, Her Laundry's Done"     17
"An Ode for Ironing"     20
Birthday     21
Resurrection of the Ordinary     24
Artist     27
Integrative Practice     29
"Love Calls Us to the Things of This World"     31
Sweeping
Compositions     39
Making Drudgery Divine     40
"Baha'u'llah's Banishment to Iraq"     42
A Common Thing in an Uncommon Manner     43
"Sweeping"     45
Here and Not Elsewhere     47
Action     48
The Natural Order of Things
True Economy     55
"A Plain Talk as to Securing Negro Homes"     56
"How to Invoke Magic"     57
"Clutter and the Matter of Life and Death"     58
"Kavvanah for Cleaning"     62
"The Tools and Goods of the Monastery"     64
"One Hour Sorting"     66
In the Company of Angels     67
Housework
"The Idea ofHousework"     73
"A Song from the Suds     75
True Spirit     77
"The Joys of Housework: Late Have I Loved It"     78
"A Yen for Cleaning"     82
Dignity     100
Answered Prayer     101
Making Home
Restoration     109
"Sanctuary"     110
"Kate and Becca Housecleaning     113
"Everyday Edens: Spending Another Day in Paradise"     114
First Job     117
"Maud Martha Spares the Mouse"     118
Workspace
"Advice to Writers"     123
"Cleaning the Kitchen Is Cleaning the Mind"     125
Engage     127
Practice     128
Spirit     129
"I Stop Writing the Poem"     131
Consecration     132
Guests and Holidays
Feast     137
Grace     138
The Good Part     142
"Martha"     143
Domicile     147
First Fruits     148
"Removing the Soot"     151
"Spring Cleaning Ritual on the Eve of the Full Moon Nisan"     152
Big Messes
Ecopoiesis     161
"Comfort"     162
"Homework"      164
Ash     166
Women's Work     170
Restoring Order     171
"No Crying in Baseball"     173
"Last of the Midnight Lullabies"     175
"Offering"     178
"Prayer"     180
Acknowledgments     181
Credits     182
About the Contributors     187
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