Andre Dubus is one of my favorite contemporary authors. He’s probably best known for a short story called “Killings” that was adapted into the film In the Bedroom. Anyhow, I’d begun reading Dancing After Hours about a year ago, didn’t finish (you know how too many books on the reading list can distract you) , and just recently picked it up again to finish what I’d started. And man, did I just fall in love with his writing all over again. He treats his characters with such grace, and seems to effortlessly be able to weave the spiritual into the ordinary…Reading him again was like food for my soul. I see God popping up all throughout his words.
The story “Out of the Snow” begins with a husband (Ted) and wife (LuAnn) getting out of bed to get ready for the day ahead of them. LuAnn wakes the kids to get them ready for school then goes to the kitchen to prepare a breakfast of cinnamon toast and oatmeal for her family. Here’s a quote, one of my favorite parts of the story:
She had told Ted she must learn to be five again, before time began to mean what one could produce in passing; or be like St. Therese of Lisieux, who knew so young that the essence of life was in the simplest of tasks, and in kindness to people in your life. Watching the brown sugar bubbling in the light of the flames, smelling it and the cinnamon, and listening to her family talk about snow, she told herself that this toast and oatmeal were a sacrament, the physical form that love assumed in this moment, as last night’s lovemaking was, as most of her actions were. When she was able to remember this and concentrate on it, she knew the significance of what she was doing; as now, using a pot holder, she drew the pan from the oven, then spooned oatmeal into bowls her family came from the dining room to receive from her hands (177).
The small things that we do for each other are not, in fact, small things. These visible signs of grace are anything but small! Anything done in love is a holy act because you are giving a piece of God away. I like that Dubus uses the word sacrament to describe a breakfast, and I like the priestly imagery of “her family [coming] from the dining room to receive from her hands.” The great thing is, we don’t have to be a priest to administer sacraments, and we don’t have to wait for one day of the week to give/receive them.
Beautiful, just beautiful! I love that we have a God who has woven himself into even the minutest aspects of our lives. He is so accessible, but we can make knowing him into such a struggle.
But all we have to do is turn, and he’s there.