I just began reading a new book I found at the library
entitled An Altar in the World by
Barbara Brown Taylor.  She’s the
author of another book, Leaving Church,
which I picked up from the library and read this past May.  She’s a former Episcopal priest who
left the church to become a professor of literature, and I’ve never read
another religious writer, maybe another writer in general, who spoke to me so
completely.   It’s as if the
books were written about me, for me, and in some cases, by me.

For example, less than two weeks ago, I told Crystal that I
thought hanging laundry was a form of meditation.  We were talking about the crazy speed at which everyone
seems to be moving and how much happier we are when we have, what some might
consider, a lot of downtime.  I
told her, partly because I knew she would get it and not think I’m crazy, that
even taking the time to hang out wet clothes on the line was enough to make me
slow down and relax.  Laundry, as
we all know, is my own little hell around here.  We produce more than any four human beings should be
allowed, and I pretty much feel like it’s Groundhog Day every day because I
wash, or at least it feels like it, the same five pairs of underwear and
T-shirts everyday.  I wash, I dry,
I fold, I put away, someone else throws it on the floor, I pick it up, I
wash—you get it.  Anyway, the fact
that hanging out the laundry has, in some way, become a moment of peace for me
is pretty miraculous.  When you are
hanging out the laundry, I explained to Crystal, there’s nothing else you can
be doing.  You just have to take
the 10 or 15 minutes to shake out the clothes and pin them, one after the
other, down the line.  Meanwhile,
the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, and I can think.  It is a meditative moment, a present
moment.

So I opened the book last night, anxious to begin reading
Taylor’s words of wisdom and on the inside of the front cover, I saw these
words:  “Something as ordinary as
hanging clothes on a clothesline becomes an act of meditation if we pay attention
to what we’re doing and take time to notice the sights, smells, and sounds
around us.”

I immediately smiled.  Her point, as she so eloquently puts it, is “No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about the spiritual life suggests that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot [referring to the “secret”, the treasure most of us seek] is because we are standing on it.”  What a nice reminder of how important it is to enjoy the moment, even the seemingly mundane daily moments that all of us face, even the never ending pile of laundry.


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