One of the best going-away gifts I ever received was a book about laundry.
I loved the book for many reasons: the giver's kind note that accompanied it, the rich theology, the beauty of Kathleen Norris' writing.
Most of all, I loved the book because I loved the subject.
There is something about the Lenten season that calls us to confess our faults as well as our deepest loves. The love that I confess is one for laundry.
I have a sneaky suspicion that some of you may snicker at these words. I fully expect at least one of you to ask me (jokingly?) on Sunday morning if I'd like to take on your loads of laundry!
If you do, I will laugh with you and reply that I've got plenty of laundry of my own to sort.
We all do.
The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and Women's Work is not a how-to guide on laundry itself but rather a reflection on how seemingly mundane tasks like laundry can draw us deeper into the mystery of God. Norris calls us to rethink household "chores" as opportunities for worship.
For years, the "work" of laundry on Saturday has helped prepare me for worship on Sunday morning. The sorting. The cleaning out of pockets. The measuring of the detergent. The waiting for silence as the machines' whirrs fade. What soothes me the most is the folding: shaping disfigured cloth into four-sided figures. From a pile of disorder, order emerges. From chaos comes separation of lights and darks. Every load of laundry is an invitation to experience the creation story.
Of course, there is many a Saturday when I opt out of the ritual. I choose social events or reading a book or watching a movie over the household "work." Pastoral duties arise, or a sermon asks for completion. I try not to live in bondage to the laundry but rather live into the freedom it offers.
The Lenten season invites us toward the freedom Christ offers not only in his death and resurrection but also in the journey towards that victory. On his way to the cross, Jesus dealt with a lot of "menial" tasks. He literally got his hands muddy to heal a blind man. He scrubbed his friends' feet. He approached the unapproachable lepers. How often do we grumble about the need to clean our homes instead of rejoicing in the cleansing of our hearts?
As Holy Week nears, let us embrace the laundry. Let us look for the face of Christ in the dust on our shelves and remember our own dust-ness. Let this mind be in us, that was also in Christ Jesus....
all good things to each of you,