I spent some time this morning doing laundry.
Laundry here entails big basins of water, a bar of soap, wrinkles in your fingers and a pretty good shoulder and arm workout. And a good chunk of time.
There was something deeply cathartic and meditative, and even restorative, about doing laundry this morning. To focus all of your energy on that one thing for an extended period of time. The mindfulness that goes in to scrubbing and rinsing and wringing and turning and hanging each piece of clothing; the methodical nature of it, the necessity of getting clean rinse water every so often; the simplicity of focus, the feeling of the different fabrics, the temperature of the water; the feeling of accomplishment at the end, with clean empty basins stacked to dry and my wardrobe free of dust and dirt and stains, fluttering in the breeze.
It reminds me of what I loved about being a Peace Corps volunteer, and living in a small village with no power or running water. Life was not easy, but it was simple.
Our lives these days, with every modern convenience, are incredibly complicated. Busyness and exhaustion is often worn like a badge, a symbol of success. If you aren’t those things, are you really working hard enough? The sheer number of things on my to-do list is paralyzing in itself; the tyranny of urgent or necessary things somehow overpowers the divine command to rest on the holy Sabbath. Electronic communication has replaced relationship; my heart is aching after a perceived ‘tone’ of an email has threatened to destroy a friendship, and suddenly something that was supposed to make life easier has instead made it devastatingly complicated as we work to unwind and untwist motives and perceptions and beliefs on both sides. The need I see every single day; the people whose stories grip my heart and bring tears to my eyes, that I have to say I’m so sorry, but we can’t help you leaves me feeling so helpless and tiny in a world crying out for hope and healing,
I can’t control those things. I have to lift them up and leave them in the hands of the One who can. And this morning I sensed deep in my being that the next right thing was not to dwell on those things; the paralysis, the ache, the helplessness, the hopelessness. The next right thing was to do my laundry, and ended up finding peace in the simple. The feel of the water, the fabric, the dusty breeze, all reminders from the heavens that I don’t need to carry those things. I let the tears cleanse my heart while my hands wrung out the last of the soapy water, and as I felt the swell of accomplishment looking at my clothes hanging on the line, I sensed the same in my soul.
Well done, good and faithful one.