Tag Archives: An Altar in the World

Laundry

Colouring Book Houses - Clotheslines

“Colouring Book Houses: Clotheslines” by Deborah Stephan

 

I love laundry

I’ve said it yes laundry

I like laundry lists

Laundry lines

Laundry racks

Laundry suds

Laundry gyrating

Laundry drying

Undershirts together

Socks together

Wooden clothespins

Pulling the cotton line in

Standing on the stoop

Filling the loop

As it went

Around the wheels

Squealing.

 

Back in the day, I painted a scene of clothes drying on a line as one of a series of primitive landscapes with watercolour and charcoal.  These were from my inner landscape: soul paintings all.  Even my art professor took notice.

Today, as I prep to write, I read in Barbara Brown Taylor’s An Altar in the World: “Sometimes when people ask me about my prayer life, I describe a laundry list.”  For someone not wanting to work on an essay, a blog post becomes a diversion.  Another day, meaning to start a blogpost, I add something to an essay.  Something similar happens in praying.  One thing leads to another word association and even a little diverting word play.  I guess I am parenting myself and have to apply discipline at some point to get the actual task done.  But for now, I digress, and happily so.

Yes, hanging the laundry – I feel the wind, the sun, or who could forget the exact feeling of holding frozen clothes – hands stinging red unfastening the stuck clothespins?  But Mom, I can’t fold these, I offer.  The answer comes from afar, just stack them across the basket.  I am the oldest after all.  Tiny icicles melt on my red fingers.  If I observe, as I am wont to do, I see designs like on frozen windowpanes.

I have never really liked the cold, that is why I moved from Ontario to B.C.  I have done a lot of laundry in my life.  I do like to have things clean.  I am one of those people who watched in wonder as her ex-spouse’s muddy work clothes went round and round in the white suds.  Bubbles were dirty but clothes came out clean.  Even the rhythm of the agitator pleased me.

I wished we could have put our marriage through that kind of process but it had to be hung out to dry and permanently frozen, no matter how many prayers were hung in a row over the years.

Yet the praying remains.  The laundry list continues as does the cleaning – for other loved clothes now.  The clothesline has become a breathing lifeline of hanging requests daily reeled in and out; a spiritual discipline.

 

Retreat Day

Retreat Day

Retreat Day


The retreat day I had been planning to attend for weeks now has just been postponed. The next date given will not work for me. I had looked forward to being with everyone. I have decided that as the day is already set aside I will make my own retreat day.

This morning I was reading in “An Altar in the World” by Barbara Brown Taylor about making a choice for making space to be alone with God and “to decide to live on the fire God has made inside you.” I learned how to plan my own day like this and in fact to plan a retreat day for others in a course I took last year at The Carey Centre at UBC. As my thought is to attempt to ‘practice what I preach’ I will do this rain or shine. The day on the waterfront will roughly follow this outline: read, draw, walk, praise, write, walk. This day will do me good I am sure and refresh me for workshop facilitation.

Again, Taylor writes that if I do not try to avoid the areas of pain in my life I could experience “great sighs too deep for words to pour from my body” and if I try to be open to my own life experiences I may find they “lay flowers on [my] bed. She goes on to say “when you let God hold you because you do not have the slightest idea how to hold yourself…” you end in praise as you”lose yourself long enough for God to find you…” I do have a situation in my life where I feel at a loss where I would like to feel “this life-giving breeze” like Taylor. I just hope it does not rain all day. It could create a lot of smoke.