Doing Dishes with Our Father

doing dishes - © Loyola Press. All rights reserved.

The Scripture verses included in the following imaginative contemplation are not exact translations but rather an invitation to readers to look up the texts to deepen their experience of this post.

I imagine Jesus at 22 or so, treasuring each ordinary day in his “hidden” life, making the mundane sacred.

“Jesus, dear, would you mind doing the dishes tonight? I don’t know why I’m especially tired.”

“I’d be happy to do them, Mother. You cooked a delicious meal for us.”

I listen to Jesus, imagining his tone of voice when I do the dishes today. He says, “We give thee thanks, Almighty God, for all thy benefits.”

I picture his environment. The aroma of roasted vegetables lingers in the air. The setting sun casts dim shadows across the sparse room. The air feels dry and warm. Jesus collects everything that was used to prepare the meal and retrieves the bucket used for dishes. He pours some water from another bucket that is near the door over the soiled utensils. Subdued light casts shadows on his task. “Even though I walk in a valley of darkness, Abba, you are here.” Jesus ponders Psalm 23. Did he learn it by heart from his mother?

His prayers continue as he takes a bowl, and with a circling motion and a tired-looking cloth, he works out the grime. He smiles at the circle that is the Trinity. “Holy are you, and worthy to be praised.”

Jesus pauses. As the water runs across his fingers, he pictures the well in the center of town where his mother drew this water early that morning. A verse from Isaiah comes to mind: “We will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.” (12:3)

Jesus reaches for another cooking utensil and murmurs, “Your love is a well overflowing within me.” He thinks about the free gift of water deep in the earth, which no man placed there. Another Scripture verse comes to mind: “Adonai! You are a fountain of living water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

Jesus rubs soapwort stems across the particularly stubborn spots. He prays his own thoughts: “Father, you provide everything we need. Thank you, loving One. You are right here.”

Jesus grabs a handful of sand for an obstinate stain. “Let the hearts of our people not grow stubborn as they did at Meribah, where they tested you, O, Abba. They saw the miracle of water from a rock but persisted with hearts like rocks.” (Psalm 95:8–9)

When the last dish is washed, Jesus dries everything with another scrap of cloth. He takes the dirty water out the back door and pours it on the garden. “You split the waters of the Red Sea,” he prays. “You have done glorious deeds.”

“Honey, you sure took a long time over a few dishes,” his mother calls.

Jesus laughs. “I was just enjoying some time with my Abba while I did them. It makes the clean-up easy and the burden light.”

“Hmm,” Jesus thinks, “maybe that’s a good way to describe why people should turn to my Abba.” He suddenly sees an image of a yoke in his carpenter shop, and he puts the last dish back in its place. He makes yet another mental note and sits down gently next to his reclining mother.

She smiles. “God gives us our daily bread. My soul gives thanks to the Lord.”

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Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. Beautiful reflection. Timely as I have been thanking Him for the pleasure of washing dishes in my home which came very close to burning down last month. Returning from being evacuated I have new found joy in each part of this home. Seeing God in everything- dishes that did not burn, cabinets that hold years of vases, glasses, and other worldly blessings. I imagine Jesus and Mary loved those little areas of their home also. After having to flee to Egypt, their return to a safe abode must have been even more exciting than my own relief in returning to the same. Mary must have found deep pleasure in seeing her boy busy with this simple housework.
    As always your reflections are an opening for going ever deeper in relationship with Him. Thanks!

  2. Loretta,
    Such a rich imaginative text. Thank you.
    I struggle with imagination especially the Bible. You may have provided me with a turning point!
    This morning I awoke having enjoyed a beautiful dinner prepared by my spouse last evening. The meal which she described over dinner emerged from her “emptying out the fridge” as she called it. Following the lovely meal I arose to begin the dishes and was told that she insisted on doing them as the dishwasher was running and the sink was filled with the pots and pans and other items used in the preparation of other thoughtful meals.
    This morning I awoke first as is often the case and went to the kitchen to prepare that first cup of coffee and alas – what was there waiting for me?
    Unlike some times past, I was pleased to “finish” the meal with a grateful heart for her efforts. Then to open the Ignatian Spiritual page to your imaginative reflection! Perhaps its time for me to bring some imagination to the Good Book. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Oh Boy! You have a fabulous spouse, Rob.
      Doing dishes in all honesty is one of my least favorite chores. Imagining Jesus at my side sure helps. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  3. My imagination is very poor. This reflection seem to flow so easily from a mundane, ordinary job. Makes me feel I can give imaginative prayer another shot. Thank you Loretta.

    • Living in drought stricken Northern California we are grateful for our resent rainstorms as this will now end our
      wildfire seasoned and give relief to our farmers.Yes,Loretta water is a gift and never underestimate the
      power of prayer 🕊

  4. Yesterday I read Jeremiah 2:13 as part of my daily bible reading! God alone can bring the life and refreshment necessary for the thirsty soul.

    • Thank you for taking the time to encourage me. I hope this helps all of us to meditate on who does dishes at our houses? How can we make it a prayerful experience?


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