Jewish Journal


November 18, 2012

It’s All In The Details



Gracing us with the gift of her wisdom and honesty, Harriet Rossetto has given us a sneak peek into her book, Sacred Housekeeping, A Spiritual Memoir.  The official release will be in March of 2013. 

Sacred Housekeeping…It’s All In The Details

I hated routine for many years, but now I perform my rituals and routines with missionary zeal so I don’t lose my footing. These are my “mitzvot,” sacred acts. They are personal, not communal; chosen, not commanded.  They remind me to be grateful to God for life: to “eat, be satisfied and bless.” 

I have the same conversation with myself every morning when one part of me wants to sleep an extra hour and the other one wants to get up and work out, and every night when one of me wants to drop my clothes on the floor and the other one is committed to hanging them up.  Leave the dish in the sink?  Wash it and put it away.  It builds spiritual muscle.

All these years later, it’s still a daily battle. I still get lazy and busy with distractions and acquisitions.  I buy new underwear at Costco and don’t bother to throw out the old.  I keep things that I don’t wear for over a year, a gross violation of The Organizer’s Manifesto.  I buy things I don’t need because they’re a bargain, another violation.  But what’s different is that now, from time to time; I force myself to face down the monster and to weed the overgrowth.

I no longer view my defects of character as evidence of my failure or as enemies to be vanquished.  They are evidence only of my humanness.  My daily spiritual struggle is to own them and “invite them in for tea,” as Ram Dass taught. 

During group sessions at Beit T’Shuvah, I began to notice that residents were adapting my evolving insights and epiphanies.  A sweet and sardonic 24-year old girl who had been in eight rehabs lit up when I told my story about housekeeping as an antidote to existential despair: “I finally did my laundry after putting it off forever,” she said.  “I was folding the towels when I got that it’s not about finding God in the Burning Bush… it’s about doing your laundry.  God really is in the details.”

I grinned.

Harriet Rossetto, Sacred Housekeeping

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