The other day, I was washing the dishes after dinner (in Vancouver, there are no dishwashers for most renters), and I suddenly did a double take on the bottle of dishwashing detergent I had purchased recently.
Splayed over the bottle were palm trees, blowing in the wind; emblazoned across the label was the re-branded title I had failed to notice in the store: “Escapes.” The apparently New Zealand-scented soap with postcard-worthy front design was meant to whisk me away from the mundane everyday of dishes, replacing them with visions of beaches, sand and piña coladas.
This kind of detail is a covert indication of the dominant cultural narrative we subscribe to if we’re not careful.
We imagine ourselves to be labouring away in our regular lives to the end of our blissful upcoming vacation, or perhaps just the weekend. Retirement, stepping back from all responsibility, can begin to look like an appealing escape from the everyday. We can even subscribe to a vision of heaven that involves relaxation, luxury, and a lot of cream cheese.
But this kind of thinking is simply not Christian. God did not create a world that was bad, but deeply, deeply good. Dishes exist and need to be washed because, hopefully, a meal was enjoyed with them. Dishes exist because we are human and we enjoy the world, the gift of the world, by way of eating and drinking every day, and guess what, we need dishes! Dishes, just like laundry and vacuuming, employment and marriage, are not part of the curse of being human; they are the end thing, the realest thing, part of what God made.
It may seem crazy, but I would almost like to think of heaven as a place where dishes will continue to exist. Where, after we feast on what the Lord prepares for us, we all go to the sink and fill it with hot water and sudsy bubbles. We set the remains of our wine glasses on the counter and we chat together while we clean and stash our dishes for the next meal.
Just some thoughts on a postcard-dressed bottle of detergent for your day.