“Baby, please go get Papaw.”
I can’t begin to count how many times I heard that simple command and ventured out to find my grandfather, who was working somewhere around the house. He was a man who was happy performing the most menial tasks. Washing cars. Painting trim. Cleaning the gutters. Spraying for weeds. But the chore I most often found him at was sweeping—and singing. My, how that man loved a clean sidewalk.
“When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more. And the morning breaks eternal, bright and fair . . .” He sang each word of the hymn in a clear baritone, accompanied by short, percussive whisks of the broom. Before I clapped eyes on the back of his seersucker shirt, I knew where he was. All I had to do was follow the cheerful sound to its source.
As a child, I thought he was singing simply to pass the time, the way he did when he picked cotton for hours on end as a boy in the hot Arkansas summer. But now, a year after his passing, I’ve come to realize the chores Papaw did—and the way he went about them—were so much more than labor. They were liturgy.
It’s a concept Tish Harrison Warren understands well. As an Anglican priest and writer who also happens to be a wife and mother of two girls, she wakes up each morning facing a formidable to-do list. How does one find time to pursue holiness amid the rush of responsibilities?
The answer comes in Warren’s first book, Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life (InterVarsity Press). Chapter by chapter, she explains how the most routine tasks, if done with an eye on the eternal, become extraordinary. “We are shaped every day, whether we know it or not, by practices—rituals ...1