One of my most cherished “simple pleasures” in life is hanging my laundry out to dry in the sun. I like it so much that I even do it when it’s not sunny, though it’s not quite as enjoyable then!
I love the fact that it’s free (and earth-friendly!), that it makes my clothes last longer, and that they smell so fresh when I put them on. I love the repetitive motion of my body bending and reaching, the sound of the wind snapping the clothes, and how it grounds me in the physical care of my family. Most of all, I enjoy doing something that is “simple” enough that it allows my mind to wander. So much of my day I am preoccupied with a million little thoughts and tasks, but stopping for 20 minutes to hang the laundry forces me to slow down and notice things I wouldn’t otherwise see–the way the light filters through the willow oak leaves overhead, the spider busily weaving her web beneath the back porch light, the neighbor’s cat stretching in the patch of sunlight. It is a relief to pause in the busyness of the day and just BE for a few minutes.
Frequently in my calls with pastors I hear stories of the incredible courage and attentiveness that is required to do the work of day-in and day-out pastoral care. I hear of the challenge of balancing work and family, and of worries about finances and retirement. I often ask the pastor I’m speaking with, “How do you keep your head above water in the midst of all your responsibilities?” or, “What keeps you grounded?” I have yet to hear someone say that hanging their laundry on the line is what keeps them sane, but whatever it is that helps you discover the sacredness of your own life, I hope you can make some time for it today. In my experience, the time I give myself to slow down and pay attention to the beauty of God’s creation always pays off. I am left with both clean clothes and a clear head. If we really do believe the “as yourself” part of the commandment to love our neighbor, perhaps the mundane tasks that keep us rooted in our own lives and bring us joy can be their own small acts of worship–even the unconventional “liturgy” of hanging laundry.
–Reflection and images by Caren Swanson