Alright, a confession: the laundry in my house is never done.
Just when I think I’ve washed and dried and folded and put away every last bathing suit, burp cloth and bedsheet, I find a week’s worth of abandoned socks under a bed. Or I climb into my minivan and find some damp beach towels draped over the back seats. Or I walk up the stairs triumphantly holding the last basket of folded laundry, ready for my victory lap, only to witness two grass stained and mud soaked boys skipping into the house.
Because laundry for a parent of four is never, ever done.
And this was hard for me as a new mom. I like projects to be wrapped up. I like the feeling of completion and accomplishment. I put a lot of value on the final product. And in laundry, and in most of motherhood, it seems, there’s a lot of this not-getting-things-completely-done thing that happens.
But somewhere along the way, God found me in this mess. First, there was a book that appeared into my life during those early mothering years. Being Home by Gunilla Norris is a book of meditations that relate to housework. There’s a prayer/poem for each task – “Doing the Dishes”, “Sweeping”, “Taking out the Trash” and yes, “Folding Clothes”.
Ms. Norris writes: “Let the folding of these towels be an invocation. I think of the hands that have been dried on them. Tentative, strong, confused, determined hands. Grant that our hands will find ways to do your will. Keep us in your love”.
And second, an interview with Sylvia Boorstein on the radio show and podcast, “On Being” with Krista Tippett, in which the Jewish-Buddhist mother and grandmother says, “Spirituality doesn’t look like sitting down and meditating. Spirituality looks like folding the towels in a sweet way and talking kindly to the people in the family even though you’ve had a long day.”
And so I remember that in all of this busy-ness, everything small task we have is a doorway to God. Sometimes, I don’t even have to reread the Norris poem prayers to be reminded of their power. Just seeing the titles – these everyday activities, capitalized, I remember that it’s my choice to approach all tasks with a sense of the sacred, to approach them kindly and allow them to make me more sweet, more caring, more humble.
And so, I offer this challenge to all of us who care for our mission.
May washing with our soap become a prayer:
May the scent remind us that God intends sweetness for each person created in Her image.
As we shower, may our intention be that the ladies we serve are showered with blessings that day. May each of us be blessed with resolve, strength, tenacity, ease, comfort, beauty and grace.
In our small moments of self-care, washing face and hands, may we be reminded of the ladies for whom self-care is a distant dream. May you, and each person we serve, remember our God given worth, may we know our strength, may we find God in the messiness of our lives.