I sit down for a couple of moments to do some work at my home desk. It is quiet. Very quiet. I read a few minutes. It is too quiet. The silence is crowding my thoughts, distracting me.
I get up and steep some tea and walk back to my desk, lay out my books, my journal, two different colors of pens (yes I am a total nerd) and lean back in my chair. Out my front window is breathless beauty, the mountain, gold and red leaves barely clinging to the maple tree and huge evergreens towering where we planted them 25 years ago.
Stunning beauty, books and silence. Almost breathless with anticipation of what was next I sit still for a moment and ponder... it’s too quiet in here.
So I do what I imagine every wife, mother, woman does when she’s unsettled ... laundry.
Yes, I stand up from the calm moment of peace and walk to a bedroom, strip off the sheets and start a load of laundry.
Now, I can relax.
Through the water running, the swishing of suds, the rinse and spin cycle I work effortlessly.
I feel gratified and a weird sense of peace settles in.
My mom loved to do laundry. It seems I woke every morning to the dryer running and ate dinner to the washing machine running through the various cycles. It was a predominant background noise in our home. While other kids may fondly identify their childhood with the smell of cookies in the air, the scent of Downy fabric softener is what I remember. And, now 40+ years later, I repeat this in my home.
I love the smell, the feel, the satisfaction of clean sheets, towels and clothes.
The sound, the scent, the sensation of clean on my skin is home to me. It comforts me and reminds me that I always have a safe place to go.
It also stirs in me the need to say thank you again for the ones, my parents, who loved me and my siblings. The rhythm of the washer moves in me a gratefulness for the relative wealth I have experienced every day of my life: clean water, food that nourishes, personal safety.
Beyond that, the sounds and scents of the washer and dryer invoke memories of the selfless way mom and dad created a home for us. There was laughter there, friends and family around the table, prayers said in earnest, lessons of obedience, boundaries and discipline.
It was home. We were all imperfect and I know each of us kids were prone to want our own way, to experiment in selfishness; we tried to exert our independence in various ways. My baby sister even attempted to run away when she was about six or seven (she didn’t get far or stay away long). We always knew, home was better.
Now, I suppose you’ve never heard anyone laud laundry in this way. However, listening to the ageless spin of the washer and tumbling of the dryer has given me clarity today.
I find my heart anchored in a deep sea of gratefulness, a place of thankfulness for affection and kindness and generosity and selfless that was extended to me every time my mom started a load of laundry.
Feeling restless, unsettled? Throw in a load of laundry and give thanks.