Call me crazy, but I like folding laundry. It’s my Zen space. There’s something about the sorting and repetitive nature of folding that makes my brain happy.
I took that Zen to the next level this afternoon with an unofficial-official final task for my previous employer.
If you’ve ever attended a progressive, non-denominational church, you may have noticed their volunteers wearing t-shirts. The shirts help identify the volunteers to the guests, and sometimes the shirts vary according to function.
Before I left the church for which I worked, we had an order in for new shirts for our Guest Services team. Turns out the order came in this week, and rather than drop off two boxes and the printout from a spreadsheet, I wanted to make sure my the volunteers felt an extra ounce of appreciation for the service they provide, so I folded the shirts.
All 100+ of them!
Several shirts I will deliver personally (some of the volunteers have not returned to serve due to COVID concerns), the others will be neatly stacked in the volunteer area for the Guest Services team. Either way, I hope they know how much I miss them and how much serving with them meant to me.
It may sound cliché, but it truly is better to serve than to be served. It’s even more amazing when you’re able to surround yourself with selfless individuals who give so much of themselves for the benefit of others.
He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” – Mark 9:35 NLT
When Lee and I were in the Dominican Republic, doing laundry was a bit of an event. Not only did we have to wake up early to ensure we got at least one load done before the daily brown-out would occur (the electric company would shut off power to the area daily, usually around 10:00 o’clock ), we also had to make sure the forecast called for no rain. It was a blessing having a washing machine at our apartment complex, something about which we were reminded every time we saw people washing their clothes by hand down at the creek. Having clotheslines on which to hang our laundry was also a blessing but did make for quite a challenge for a first-worlder like me still working to acclimate to the environment.
Now that we are back in the States, Lee and I have a heightened sense of gratitude for the little things we took for granted before we left. Screens on windows, potable water from the faucet, the ability to flush toilet paper (that’s another blog for another day); all these things about which we didn’t think twice before we moved to Samaná are things we see now with a new sense of appreciation and thankfulness.
As I awoke this morning and got myself ready to kick off my day, I looked at the pile of dirty laundry in the hamper. I actually had to take a moment to counter-argue the initial thought in my head of, “It’s overcast today. I guess laundry will have to wait.” Then I remembered the AirBNB in which we’re staying has a washer AND a dryer!! And it’s not like we haven’t already done laundry since we’ve been here. We have. But given it’s only been a month since we’ve been back, there is still some re-acclimating we’re going through.
I miss our life in the D.R. I miss the children we served and the team we had that made it possible to serve. I miss the views from our apartment and our land-lady who was a proxy mom for me while I was there. Still, I am grateful for the opportunity to have gone and for the experience we had, just as I am grateful to be back home with family and for the next opportunity God has in store for us.
And I am grateful for the freshly washed (and dried) laundry I have this morning. Yay God!
My washer and dryer are in Ozark, Alabama. I guess, technically, they’re no longer mine. A couple of weeks ago, my son and I delivered them to my mother-in-law so she can use them in her new apartment. It’s all part of the downsizing process in preparation to move to the Dominican Republic. But what happens in the interim when your clothes need to be washed?
Lee and I spent most of the afternoon at the Laundry Express in Temple Terrance. Truth be told, we’ve had our share of afternoons at the laundromat in the past. The reason is simple: our comforter does did not fit in our washing machine. With pets, we’ve had more than one occasion where the comforter needed to be washed.
This afternoon, we did wash our comforter, but we also took advantage of the situation and washed a couple of loads of laundry as well. It was not a bad experience – Laundry Express is actually quite nice with machines that are not coin operated but rather read a prepaid card for use – but it was a couple of hours that left me thinking how blessed the vast majority of us are simply for having conveniences like a washer and dryer at home.
When I was in college, I spent my entire Junior year without a washer and dryer. My girlfriend and I would trek once a week down to the laundromat and get our laundry done. It was no big deal because 1) it seemed everyone else was in the same situation I was in, and 2) as a college student, it was a great time to catch up on studying, etc.
As an adult, however, I can’t imagine this being part of my normal routine. Yet there I was, surrounded by other adults whose lives were in fact occupied by the normalcy of laundromat life. On a regular basis, these individuals need to carry their belongings to a very public venue and communalize what I consider to be a somewhat private chore.
As I folded my clothes, I was overcome with a sense of self-consciousness. For me, there’s a certain amount of emotional intimacy that goes into the laundry process. Sure, shirts are shirts, and all socks basically look alike. But when you get into the arena of ‘unmentionables’, it can be a little awkward.
I had a reusable grocery store bag into which I rather quickly dumped all socks and skivvies as I pulled them out of the laundry basket. Keep in mind, my wife’s clothes were also in the mix, so I was driven to be as fast and discreet as possible when getting her items into the bag. However, unlike those of my wife, my undergarments do require folding. Okay, they don’t ‘require’ folding, but it’s my OCD preference to have them folded.
*TMI WARNING*I wear boxer briefs. The longer the legs on the briefs, the better. If there were such a thing as boxer capris, I’d buy them. I also have a particular way in which I fold my boxers (see GIF above). So I’m standing there, folding my undies, and I’m overcome by a feeling that everyone in the laundromat now has the ability to see, discuss, and critique my underwear preferences. As this terrifying thought cascaded over me, I peek up from my ever rapidly increasing folding process to see an older gentleman at the table across the way. He, too, was in the process of folding his skivvies, except he is a fan of tighty whities. “Poor guy,” I thought to myself.
I know this is all silly and I can poke fun at it now, but it does sadden me to think of the millions of people in our country for whom this experience is just part of life. Macro out to the rest of the world, and the privilege with which we live, having our Amanas and Maytags and Samsungs, is grossly amplified. And it serves to remind us of the gratitude we should express to God for the comforts and conveniences that make up our day.
I can say with a great amount of confidence, in a couple of hours I am going to crash big time as I come off this caffeinated craze in which I find myself right now, but until I do, this Monday night is chock-full-of stuff getting done. This usually happens as Lee and I reset after a string of busy weekends in which the day-to-day stuff gets ignored.
Laundry, dishes, bills, dusting, errands, more bills, etc. Tonight, the to-do list is my bitch.
Yes, I have a ‘system’ when it comes to folding clothes. Don’t judge. I embrace my O-C-D.