Sunday, March 21, 2010

Book #6 - The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris

It has been sitting on my book shelf for years. A diminutive book with an unassuming cover, less than 100 pages, it resided there and I would glance over it and say to myself "I really ought to read this". It's short and would take me no time to finish, as though "no time to finish" was a good thing.

Well..... it's the sort of book that doesn't take you "no time to finish" as it has lots to ponder.

The Quotidian Mysteries, with its subtitle "Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work"", might turn some folks off. We women who grew up during the time of the feminist movement may think it a book that "puts us in our place". And, to a point, it does.

Norris suggests we look at the work we do every day to maintain our home and relationships and look at them as works of prayer. The day to day never gets done, that once we finish it, we start all over again. Not much different than prayer, liturgy and worship. Once we finish it, we start all over again.

However, as I neared the end of the book and did find a quote that I read over several times and wanted to share with you. Norris shares a time in her life where she was "in love with love" - and in an inappropriate relationship. And again, the everyday ordinariness of human love shines through, albeit unexciting:

"human love is sanctified not in the height of attraction and enthusiasm but in the everyday struggles of living with another person. It is not romance but in routine that the possibilities for transformation are made manifest. And that requires commitment."
  It seems in today's world if we aren't on the "high" of something, whether it be in the excitement of the beginnings of a relationship, the high of a spiritual mountaintop experience, and for some the "high" of some mind altering substance of choice, then something is wrong.  Norris contends that quotidian aspects of our life ARE the times which we can make possibilities for change and those are the holy and transformative times.

It's a wonderful little treasure, with big ideas and lots to ponder.


  1. I love, love, love this book. I gave copies to my fellow NJs (non-Jesuits) at the end of the 30-day retreat last year. I've been trying for Lent this year to commit not to "extras", but to engaging deeply in the routine. To do the everyday, well.

  2. I'm just discovering Norris. Reading "The Cloister Walk" now.

  3. The Cloister Walk is a great book!