Wednesday, January 7, 2015

St. Distaff's Day

Today is St. Distaff's Day, or Roc Day, official holiday of spinning.  In the Middle Ages, this was the day that women got back to spinning after the twelve days of Christmas.

There's a joy to getting back to work.  On my way back from a visit to our family at Christmastime, I remarked to my husband, "I can't wait for Monday."

"When I'm back at work?" he asked.

"No," I said, "I just want to get back to my routine."  But it's more than just routine; a routine of sitting around all day would be boring.  A routine of work is what I craved -- the daily pressure of work to be done, resolved by the joy of work completed.  The pride in yourself that comes from knowing you're good at your job.

This last can be hard to come by as a housewife.  There's no boss to give you performance reviews; you don't get a raise if you're better at it.  No one ever is impressed by hearing you are a housewife. You have to develop the ability to judge yourself honestly, to be your own standard, so that you know when you're slacking off and when you can be honestly proud of the good day's work you put in.  But it's freeing, too, not to depend on society or money to validate what you do all day.

Someone asked on Facebook the other day if Adam and Eve would have worked in the garden of Eden.  I say, absolutely.  What would you do if you had all the money you needed?  Watch TV for sixty years?  Or would you take all that wonderful free time and invest it in finally perfecting your hobbies?  I imagine Adam and Eve took delight every day in tending the garden just so, just like hobby gardeners do now -- perhaps meeting at the evening of every day full of the story of the fig tree they'd planted on this hill and the weeds they'd pulled out of that flower bed.  Without work, what would we have to be proud of?  How could we measure our own improvement?  How would we imitate God?

Our creative power is one of the greatest ways we imitate God the creator.  God set the stars in the heavens, spun the earth on its axis, drew out the blue threads of the rivers.  We set our distaff beneath our arm, spin the spindle, draw out the thread -- and when we do so, we learn what it means to love our creation.  What is the most beautiful thing you've ever made, the thing whose flaws couldn't lessen your love for it, because you made it?  Surely God loves you more than you could ever love that thing.

And that's why it's Saint Distaff's Day, even though there's no person named St. Distaff.  Saint means holy -- and our work is holy.  It makes us like God.