When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” — Genesis 28:16
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Vayetze, which means “and he left,” from Genesis 28:10-32:3.
One of the most challenging aspects of becoming a new parent is getting up with a newborn day and night, feeding the baby, changing the diaper, putting the baby back to sleep, and then doing it all again a few hours later. Somehow, in the time remaining, parents need to do laundry, cook food, and take care of countless other things. Life can become an endless list of mundane tasks.
I said this phase with all four of my children. Whenever I began to feel overwhelmed or overtired, I would say to myself, “This, too, is holy work.” By reminding myself that taking care of my baby and my family was holy work, I felt energized and inspired to carry on.
In this week’s Torah reading, we read about Jacob’s famous dream. He saw a ladder connecting heaven and earth with a multitude of angels going up and down upon it. When Jacob awoke the next morning, he exclaimed, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it…”
The Jewish sages explained that when Jacob saw angels coming and going between heaven and earth, he understood that the physical world and the spiritual realm are intrinsically connected. Jacob learned that God’s presence is everywhere — even in places where we are “not aware of it.”
Holiness in All We Do
We often go through life thinking that God is in one place but not another. We feel that some things we do are holy, while other activities are mundane and meaningless. However, the truth is that every place we go and everything we do has the potential to become a holy encounter with God.
It all depends on us. We can wash dishes and feel separate from God’s presence, or we can wash dishes and feel that we are serving God by creating a clean and healthy environment in which to thrive and grow. We can go to work feeling empty and disconnected, or we can see every interaction as a chance to model honesty, kindness, and godliness. We can see our daily tasks as rote, mundane, and meaningless — or we can proclaim that “this, too, is holy work.”
God is everywhere — even in the places we would least expect Him to be. It is up to us to be aware of His constant presence and to connect with the holiness embedded within everything that we do.
Choose one of your daily tasks that usually feels least spiritual, and when you do it, say to yourself, “This, too, is holy.”