Sacred of the Ordinary

sacred my laundry room brings me so much peace

I was switching out a load of laundry today, bent over at the waist sorting through a pile of uniforms. Turning sleeves right side out, double-checking pockets for pens and crayons. Tossing lights into the washer and darks back into the basket. I said a silent prayer, as I sifted through the khakis and oxfords, specific intentions as I sorted my way through.

And also, as I sometimes do, I caught myself in this peaceful moment with wonder and awe. What is it about this space, this room, that brings me such serenity? How is it something that could be so intense and overwhelming makes me feel so close to God? The simplicity of the route task somehow being offered as prayer.

I spend a lot of time in my laundry room, but only in spurts. Ten minutes here, seven minutes there. It’s not long stretches, more like quick trips in to switch over and sort through and get started once again. And almost every time, I feel a union with the Lord I can’t explain. I go to adoration, the quiet, calm chapel and there are times when my laundry room can rival that peace.

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A few weeks ago, I spent one evening with our neighbor Cathy. She lives next door to us and has lived in her home almost thirty years. Before Paul and I moved in, our house belonged to Paul’s parents, and for a while his grandparents lived here as well. So our boys are the fourth generation of Balducci’s to live in the house, and the fourth generation of Balducci’s to know Cathy.

That evening, as we sipped our white russians in the sitting room of her sweet Southern cottage, Cathy told me about her history with Paul’s family. She had a wonderful relationship with Paul’s mom, who died a few years before Paul and I got married. Many an afternoon, Cathy told me, she would she walk over to get some wisdom and encouragement from Paul’s mom. The two would stand in the kitchen — the space that is now my laundry room — and Maria would cook while Cathy talked. Or Maria would talk while Cathy listened.

“I would lean in against the doorway,” said Cathy, “and Maria would speak truth to me.”

Cathy told me that in those years, there was so much grace and peace and prayer being poured out in that room, the space where I now sort our clothes and pray for my own family. And that evening, as I sipped my libation and enjoyed Cathy’s company, I realized — aha! That’s what it is. This sacred space of mine has been sacred before.

What I feel when I’m in that room can only be the prayers poured out before, years of history and prayer and connection. This house has good bones, I think, and that’s what I feel, too.

And it’s true, I feel very close to Paul’s mom when I’m in that room. I feel close to her, and close to my mother. Close to Maria because I’m in a space that was once hers, and I’m honored to share the walls and the people. And close to my own mom because it is she who taught me to find Jesus in this most ordinary of tasks. It was my mom who presented “doing the laundry” as something therapeutic, something more than the daily grind. I spent my youth watching her pray her way through a load of laundry, and there I learned the sacred of the ordinary.

And now, here I stand. Folding, sorting, praying. Being. I’m with my mom, who still lives right next door to us. And with my mother-in-law, who lives in our hearts.

Comments

  1. This is so moving, Rachel. Thank you.

    A few years ago, someone gave me a beautiful print. It shows Mary hanging out the wash on a clothesline, with baby Jesus sitting on the ground near her. It captures the meditative flavor of doing laundry, just as you do here.

  2. Camille says

    I loved this. I am near tears reading it. What a blessing to have the shared space and such peace!

  3. So beautiful!! Thank you for sharing this special space with us.

  4. So beautiful! Thank you.

  5. Aunt Catherine says

    🙂

  6. Michelle says

    It might be the cleaning part that brings you peace. I know I feel like I have climbed Mount Everest when I am caught up with laundry. It seems silly, but it just is.

  7. Michele says

    First, I LOVE the floor in your laundry room. This story that you have shared with us is very touching. It is so special when people who have known our loved ones share there own personal stories with us. Please let Cathy know how in sharing her memories of your Mother-in-law with you…..you where able to gift all of your blog readers with another beautiful, thoughtful post. Thank you.

  8. Beautiful!

  9. This was really beautiful, but I have to tell you, I skimmed the title and thought it said “scared of the ordinary”! The post didn’t match up to well, so I re read it: sacred, much better!