How Folding Laundry can Baptize a Life

We awaken to rain this morning. A liquid sky falls down and I fold the laundry.
I sit on the steps and press towels into neat bundles, caress cloth that will soon caress skin, sorting as I go—the jeans on the bottom of the pile, then sweatshirts, t-shirts all together, and then underwear and socks. They are not fluffy fresh from the dryer; rather, they mingle in their cleanness all night, tumbled together through the dark hours.
I have a “delay” setting on my dryer and I don’t hesitate to use it.
I fold while my boys eat breakfast, while my husband rushes around getting ready for work, while the world is waking up.
This morning, as I fold, I remember how my mother used to fold our laundry at night. She would wait until we kids were in bed—after the supper dishes were all clean and air-drying in the drainer—and fold while my dad watched TV beside her. How many times I would get up to tell her I couldn’t sleep, I don’t know. But I have a memory of her face—intent on this task—a memory of contentedness.  The folding of the laundry was the winding down of her day, the deep sigh at the end of all the work, the pause to hold and savor a bit of soft in all the hardness of the day.
And as I sit on these steps and look out the French door windows at trees lit with raindrop diamonds framed by a white sky…I think how different my life is than that of my mother’s. How her days were filled with chasing children and chasing the dirt away and the chasing out wrinkles and wiping and sweeping and bending to the rhythm of a family in motion. How her hands were filled with the substance of life.
I know these things I chase are elusive. Some would say that to chase after beauty is a fool’s game. And to fill my hands with color and words and the lift of a bird’s wing…well, how can a person touch that?
On Sunday my Pastor preached on the baptism of Jesus. She talked about John the Baptist and how people came from all over to him.
“Those who had some yearning in their hearts for something new,” she said. “They came.
And if it wasn’t beauty that made the call—that internal recognition of the Divine—if it wasn’t beauty they were chasing, I don’t know what else it could have been.
And I think about how different two lives can be but they can still be about beauty and I am astounded to realize that my life and that of my mother’s is not so different after all.
Whatever you are chasing after, Beloved…let it take you closer to the Fairest of All. Beauty has many faces, but there is One who authors it all. Whether it is folding laundry or writing poetry or taking photos or feeding babies…it’s all divine.
It’s all Beauty.
with the amazing Jen:
and dear Michelle too:


  1. says

    I’m always drawn in my your titles and then all the rest of your words hold me close, too. Yes, let’s be drawn to beauty, His beauty, together…and relish this life.

  2. says

    This is one of my favorites. My life is more like your mothers, and though it is messy, I do find it beautiful. 🙂

    And I’m so glad there are different paths, because I love peeking in on yours. Thank you!

  3. says

    Your words and the images you paint are poetry…beauty on a page…Thanks, Laura…your words go with the Oswald Chambers quote I added for tomorrow…all is divine when it is done with Him.

  4. says

    “Whatever you are chasing after, Beloved…let it take you closer to the Fairest of All. Beauty has many faces, but there is One who authors it all.” Thanks for that reminder.

    Though I don’t especially like laundry, it does have a liturgical quality that makes sense of your mother’s habit. There’s a Kathleen Norris book (tiny book) called The Quotidian Mysteries. It’s all about the liturgical aspects of homemaking and worth the read.

    Grace to you, friend. May the Beauty keep finding you this evening.

  5. says

    This helps me, you know. It helps answer some of my fears (is that the right word?) of not being useful or fruitful.

    I read this tonight and had to show you. I found out the Welsh word for sehnsucht. 🙂 From Susan Cooper’s Dreams and Wishes, p.93:
    “I can tell you a lot about homesickness; I am an expert on the matter of living and loving across a divide, on the kind of ache that is bearable only because its absence would signify emptiness, the loss of all feeling. The Welsh call this ache hiraeth, and by that word they mean something more than homesickness: they mean a kind of deep longing of the soul. They guard the value of the word, and are contemptuous of those who use it lightly…”

  6. says

    Just before I read this, I folded laundry for my husband. I am thankful for a dryer. In earlier days, I used a clothes line and in winter the cloth diapers were laid on a folding wooden stand that was a clothes drier of sorts. Work in any form is soothing and when it is done it is satisfaction.

  7. says

    Sigh. Thank you for this moment of rest and reflection. And keep reaching for those dreams, that beauty – even while you fold the laundry. (Have you read “Quotidian Mysteries” by Kathleen Norris? You’d love it.)

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