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Thursday
Sep062018

Missing the washing

At the risk of being thought certifiably insane, I am going to come right out and admit that as an empty nester, I miss the washing. Partly, I suspect, because it used to put me in mind of that spiritual classic The practice of the presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.

Twenty-five years ago, we had four children under 71/2 and only ever used cloth nappies. Most mornings involved two loads of washing. Vast quantities of laundry bookended our days, including the folding of nappies which I suspect is a skill that has gone the way of navigating by the stars.

But I rarely minded. I’ve always enjoyed the morning chore of lugging the heavy wash basket out on one hip, squinting up at the sky, connecting with what the day is doing, inhaling the lemony scent of clean clothes.

I also used the pegging out time to think about whichever little body normally occupied the damp garment I was hanging out. How blessed to have a baby girl to tuck into an adorable pale green jumpsuit. How lucky to have tough little denim overalls and mini flannies for the older girl and the boys. How cute their little socks and jocks.

Okay, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t always idyllic. On many occasions I thought that socks - a dozen a day, inevitably mismatched and with some missing - would be the straw that broke this frazzled mother’s sanity.

But a lot of it was joy – and, now that the pressure of those busy years is long over, I fight my husband for the privilege of hanging out the clothes. Bringing in armfuls of fresh sheets and towels and underwear, folding them in neat piles, filing them away where they belong is a deeply satisfying task.

Brother Lawrence, a French 17th century friar, was mainly a cook and dish-washer and his Practice of the presence of God reads like a Christian version of mindfulness. Cultivating the practice means that in the most mundane task we can find the presence of the Divine and consequently, deep satisfaction and contentment.

Some people seem to do this more easily than others; I have found it a gift that has developed steadily as I age. It is also a skill that can be cultivated; the most effective tool for learning the practice of the presence of God in my experience is contemplative prayer. If I manage to set aside time for wordless prayer most days, I am far more likely to sense the presence of God in each part of my day, whether it is difficult, fabulous or dull. The practise of wordless prayer reminds me that I am here, in this particular situation, so this is where God meets me and can use me as a channel of God’s love. That clear sense can come, as it did for Brother Lawrence, working in the kitchen. It can come cleaning the toilet. It can certainly come hanging out the washing.

This was published in the September issue of The Melbourne Anglican

 

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  • Response
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    Missing the washing, basically sharing about spiritual classic and increasing the more methods about connecting process. This blog always making on practice of the sesson and improving the services.

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