Community, Cooperation, and Chores

Yesterday all of my children were home because the schools were having a professional development day, but I had to work. When I returned home, I walked into a tidy home, and I wondered if my husband was unexpectedly home early. Nope.

Finally one of the kids said,”we cleaned.”

“Yes I noticed. It looks great!”

“Well, you asked us to.”

Honestly I have a vague sense of the request, but it is no different than my regular wishes. But on a day when they had space in time and emotion, they did a wonderful job of creating order.

Then this morning I read in Jean Vanier’s book Community and Growth. about the work, chores, structure of living together, and organization of living together needing to flow out of communion. Vanier says,

“Communion is based on some common inner experience of love; it is the recognition of being one body, one people, called by God to be a source of love and peace. It’s fulfillment is more in silence than in words, more in celebration than in work. It is an experience of openness and trust that flows from what is innermost in a person; it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.

Community is above all a place of communion. For this reason it is necessary to give priority in daily life to those realities, symbols, meetings and celebrations that will encourage a consciousness of communion. When a community is just a place of work, it is in danger of dying.” P. 25

And I was challenged that my impatience around housework and kids is because I want a task completed now, and truth be told, I don’t want the adults in the family to be the only ones doing it. Realizing that my children are growing in helping maintain our home and reframing housework as a form of cooperation requiring structure but overflowing from love and connection puts house maintenance in a whole new light.

Now let’s see if I can put this into practice.


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