windowsill still-lives: mindfulness practice in action

Susan Dworski

Susan Dworski

Mindfulness practice – learning to be present in each moment– is something many people are embracing these days. Business are incorporating it and classes abound. Perhaps the most often-recommended “exercise” is washing dishes mindfully, although we know few people who really do it. Recently, we heard of one that did, truly. No surprise, it is Susan Dworski who, we are finding out, is a kind of radical activist of the everyday:

Several years ago I ripped out the dishwasher, built shelves and installed a deep, double sink. A cottage kitchen forces such Luddite decisions.The peace that descended after its removal was profound. Dishwashing became less a chore, more a meditation. Hot soapy water and plates air-drying silently on the tiled countertop are a balm after the roar of the rinse cycle and clattering silverware. 

The window above the sink became a revolving gallery showcasing produce and flowers grown in her community garden plots.

 

Susan Dworski

Susan Dworski

Inspired by British artist Andy Goldsworthy’s ephemeral, outdoor artworks, I decided to photograph my kitchen window every day for 365 days and create a composite photographic scroll of everything that I gathered from the fields––new and old, dying and being born––as the earth rolled around the sun for one complete year. 

 

The project stalled, fizzling out as life intervened. But the pleasure of washing dishes quietly at the sink, surrounded by such fleeting perfection, remains a daily blessing.

 

Susan Dworski

Susan Dworski

Susan mentioned a poem by William Stafford*, Oregon’s Poet Laureate, that couldn’t be more timely. It “bears witness to the small, the humble and the plain. And to the holiness of the heart’s affections.”

YES 

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out––no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

 
We figure you don’t have to rip out your dishwasher to practice this floral/vegetal brand of minfulness and connection. Here is the whole glorious riff of Susan’s flowers:

 

S

Susan Dworski

2 Responses to windowsill still-lives: mindfulness practice in action

  1. Cynthia A. 04.17.2013 at 9:39am #

    We did not go so far as to rip out our dishwasher, but instead use it to store the kid’s shoes. It turned out that our delicious well water was not “purified” enough to go through the dishwasher without leaving some sediment (even though we do filter our water). The sediment made the dishwasher cranky. It’s ok. We love the way our water tastes and washing by hand somehow completes the cooking cycle. Prep-cook-eat-wash.

  2. sahana martin 04.17.2013 at 6:34pm #

    Brought home some twigs and branches that had been cut in the park . They started to blossom in here, popping out leaves and flowers . One is even fixed to a beam to hold it up ( in the watering pot) . The shape of some of these branches is like an artwork of its own -and, in connection to the beautiful work of Andy Goldsworthy , a temporary one .
    And finally the almond tree is blossoming again , presents of spring days.
    Wishing you lots of those,

    sahana

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