I decided on the way to the Albuquerque airport to stop and do my laundry so I wouldn’t have to do it in Vancouver. I left Christ in the Desert Monastery a couple of hours before I had initially planned and stopped in Santa Fe. When I could access the internet, I looked up local laundromats and stopped at the closest one—well rated on Yelp, by the way. (I didn’t know such things were rated.)
I like going to the laundromat, frankly. I like getting all the week’s laundry done in a short time during the summer when I hit the one nearby our cottage on the Cape early in the morning before the crowds descend. This time I went on Memorial Day at about 10am. Still early, but the machines were chugging and tumbling.
I only had a single load to do, to wash away the dust of the desert. So I put in my load and waited.
The woman who sat next to me offered half of the day’s newspaper. I saw a man doing laundry for his family help out the woman who showed signs of mental illness. I watched another dad play with his daughter amongst the carts. I saw signs of God’s kingdom.
In her book The Quotidian Mysteries poet Kathleen Norris links doing the laundry with liturgy. She explains that these two—and other daily tasks like cleaning and cooking— “serve to ground us in the world, and they need not grind us down. Our daily tasks, whether we perceive them as drudgery or essential, life-supporting work, do not define who we are… as human beings.” She ultimately states, “Ironically, it seems that it is by the means of seemingly perfunctory daily rituals and routines that we enhance the personal relationships that nourish and sustain us.”
Laundry will be a reality for me on this sabbatical journey to care for the clothes I’ll be carrying myself and for those of my family. It cannot be avoided. And it shouldn’t be.
Stopping for a couple of hours to let the machines run connect me with the reality that God is found in the simplest—and most mundane—of things. Life is usually like that.