A View Into My Laundry Room


For many years, I have posted my thoughts in A View From My Laundry Room. Today, instead of looking out, I am looking in. Today, I am giving you a glimpse inside my laundry room. I choose to write from my laundry room because it embodies both “time” and “eternity”—a great deal of “time” and hopefully something “eternal,” as it is here I have spent many years “clothing the naked.” I have continued to ponder the balance we seek as women, wives and mothers. In so many areas of our lives, this balance comes not from choosing between two opposites, but in integrating our lives so that they become whole. It is possible that our work can become our worship; our vocation can become our vacation; and the same hands that change diapers and clean toilets, can paint a masterpiece, play the piano and write poetry. As our creative lives, our spiritual lives, our careers and our motherhood all blend together and complement each other, I believe it is possible to solve the problem of Maria?

The mission statement first posted by the Dublin Unitarian Church that I have adopted as my own personal creed proclaims: Love is the doctrine of this church, the quest of truth is its sacrament and service is its prayer. To dwell together in peace, to seek knowledge in freedom, to serve humankind in fellowship to the end that all souls shall grow in harmony with the divine-this we do covenant with each other and God.”

When service is our prayer, folded clothes and folded arms become one.  In a simple parable of growth,  Jesus teaches…”This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain-first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest is come.” Mark 4:26-28 (This also describes my laundry—night and day, whether  I sleep or get up the piles sprout and grow and I don’t know how) As seeds (and babies) grow, our spirituality increases as we go about our normal affairs—Victor Frankl in the life-changing book Man’s Search For Meaning expounds on this principle:

The more (a person) forgets himself-by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love-the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence. (Frankl, 133)

In climbing mountains of laundry, piles of bills, and loads of dishes we are actually transcending something greater—ourselves and becoming something greater-self-actualized. 

As a young student at BYU, I worked at BYU Married Student Housing, one day I was sent on an errand to check on something in the laundromat. I noticed a woman sitting next to a front-loading washer, staring into space as she waited for her laundry to finish spinning. In my naïve, youthful, foolishness, I prayed a small prayer that I would never become like this lady. I was so blinded  by the beam of arrogance in my own eye, that I could not see the sacredness of the work she was doing. Is it a coincidence that the sacred Ganges River, the giver of all life and the place where all faithful Hindus hope to be buried someday, is the same river where women also wash their family’s clothes. These are women who perhaps understand the karma yoga, one of the four pathways to god, the path through work. 

To be continued….


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4 Responses to A View Into My Laundry Room

  1. Heather says:

    The longer I live the more I am starting to think that God doesn’t intend for the big things to matter as much as the small everyday acts of charity, including folding laundry. I love that Frankl quote, in essence we find ourselves by losing ourselves. Thanks for a beautiful post.

  2. Jessica Gregory says:

    Wow, your laundry room is sparkling clean…or your petunias are just strategically placed;)
    I am so glad you are doing a series on this subject. Tonight on our walk with James, John said that he wished we were rich and we could stay at the Ocean Club with the rich and famous. Since I’ve been thinking about this topic for some time I immediately answered that I couldn’t be more content right now living at our comfy cramped condo. I started pondering this subject after watching an episode (or two) of Housewives of Orange County when I was in Canada. Those ladies all seemed so unfulfilled with their lives even though they appear to have everything the world (and all those botox billboards) tell us we need to be happy… Beauty, fortune, loads of mula, lots of time to dine with friends and fam, hot pool boys, and jets to whisk them away for a day in posh spas. They also have horrible relationships with their spouses, nannies raise their kids (and sometimes even birth them too!), their friendships are so superficial, and they constantly have to have lipo for all those fancy lunches they are always having. I know this is an extreme example. And there are countless folks who have fortunes and fulfilling lives… (The Gates, Oprah, Paul Newman…to name a few) So what I am trying to say, in a not so succinct way, is everything that makes me happy, the “housewives of__________” don’t have. And you’re right, things that make me sweat, makes my life sweet… taking care of my baby (hands on), feeding my hubby hot meals, housework, laundry, blogging my blessings, playgroups with friends, serving my friends and family, dinning with the derby girls on food that we have personally prepared, exercising in the great outdoors, watching sunsets, doing an occasional design job, and the gospel. That list was long, but that about covers the key to my happiness at this moment. I guess you could say the secret to success is needing lots of Secret (deodorant). And I will add a good long vacation…But I hope we will always do it on a dime…b/c there is also something fulfilling about sneaking into the Sheraton swimming pool;)

  3. colleendown says:

    Jessica:
    Sorry it took so long to reply to your thoughtful post. I would like to get a dialogue going here, even if it is just the two of us. Reading you thoughts, reminds me of a quote that brought your nickname hydrogirl immediately to my mind.

    “The cure for anything is salt water– sweat, tears or the sea.” Isak Dineson

    I like the fact that you are comfortable doing exactly what it is that you are doing without feeling a great deal of outside pressure to conform. 🙂

  4. colleendown says:

    Heather:

    I certainly hope that the little things matter-especially laundry-because after a weekend at the cabin and two broken washers I am about to have to go down to the river and wash the 40+ towels that are stinking up my house–it leaves little time for doing much else in this world at the moment. Thanks for you help this weekend!
    Love,
    Mom

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