Saturday, May 14, 2011

Life on the 'Line...

I am not naturally patient. I tend to tap my thumbs on the steering wheel restlessly as I sit in a drive-thru line. When I'm loading kids in the van, it feels as if I'm herding turtles: "C'mon, hurry up. Get buckled."

So when my clothes dryer broke a couple of months ago, my response surprised even me: "I'm getting a clothesline."

We nicknamed the dryer we'd used for ages "the fryer" when it began singeing and shredding our clothes sometime last summer. By November, I was fed up and I gambled on an inexpensive replacement for it, an $80 refurbished Whirlpool from a guy who sells fixed-up appliances in his used tire shop. It lasted 3 months.

Refusing to buy yet another lemon but not having the cash on hand to purchase something reliable, I uncharacteristically looked at the bright side after my neighbor told me how much she loves her clothesline. "Alright," I reasoned, "It's spring. It's warm. It's breezy. I think a clothesline will be swell."

I've already learned a lot from drying clothes in this vintage, unhurried fashion. Some days present perfect clothes-drying conditions and our heavy knits are dry within an hour, crisp and fresh and bright. Other days the air is still and stagnant. Clothes remain damp and not so fresh. I swat away gnats and hope I'm not standing near any fire ants.

Perfect days that get that job done and not-so-perfect days that are burdensome and seem to yield nothing...that's what life is like on the 'line. And that's where I live right now.

I don't boss the weather or stir up the air or tinker with the humidity. Someone else does all of that and I simply accept what is. I'm glad for the days when I can dry 2 or even 3 loads to perfection. And I have no choice but to simply accept the stagnant and unproductive days.

This current life of mine feels just like that; every day is a gamble. Some days I make great strides...God moves and does and I rejoice. I finish the day feeling like that perfect load of laundry: complete. Other days, progress is slow if at all and I get mad, wanting the Wind-maker, Life-changer, People-healer to hurry up already.

But God is showing me grace and communion in the slow. Instead of that quick toss from the washer to the dryer, I spend a good 15 minutes shaking out towels and Spiderman underwear and grass-stained jeans, clothes-pinning shoulder seams to the line...unfold, shake out, clothespin, repeat. It is slow and rhythmic, laundry as liturgy, my face to the sun. I've begun using the time to pray and think and escape the rivalrous kid voices that I can still faintly hear through the walls.

Who knew that a busted-up clothes dryer could help heal a soul?

As I tend to other things, the clothes wave and flap and I've determined to never take breeze for granted again. Amazing how something I can't see or touch can get the job done if I'll just be patient.

So much of life is beyond our control. Trying to make His will bend into ours will forever be futile...sort of like trying to boss the weather. I'm learning, ever so slowly, that there is rest for the soul who gives up control, who trusts in the One that blows the wind enough to get the job done in a day and who also has purpose in the seemingly stagnant and undone.

Because in His time {and rarely in ours} the job will get done. God promises in His word that He will complete it. And He has never broken a promise. Never. But in the meantime, the waiting time and trusting-in-promises time, there is sweet communion as we rest, hope and keep lifting our faces to the sun.

...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. {Philippians 1:6}

I've been a little absent from here lately. It's been over 3 weeks since my last post and in blog time, that feels like 3 years. I've missed this place and I've missed all of you who come by and visit. Lord willing, the words are coming back and my fingers long to type away again and to find fellowship here. I have sure missed it.


  1. Lovely. SC has the perfect climate for a clothesline. How are the towels turning out?
    You really should read The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris if y haven't already. It's very short and manageable for a busy mom!

  2. Scooper,
    How poetically beautiful this posting is. I am so happy to read your postings again.
    We tried the clothesline here, but apparently the birds and squirrels found the clean wash too tempting to not 'mess' on it. We tried two different times to use the NC breezes, but oh well the birds are quite persistent!?
    hugs all around ooooxxxxoooo

  3. Ahh!

    We've missed you too!

    I love words and thoughts that wash over me in beautiful prose.

  4. Oh my dear, dear sounds as you have received an ever so gentle reawakening by the Holy Spirit. I know some have fall out in the floor, speaking in tongues awakenings but I love the gently stirring as God speaks to us as only He can do. He reawakens our souls in the strangest of ways.....ways He knows we will hear and see and feel. As we step through life so careful not to step on land mines I just wonder if He'd rather us skip through life trusting that gentle breeze as well it's intensity. feel the sun on our faces and the breeze in our hair. I wonder if he's mad at the guys who invented dryers??? Thought provoking, huh? (smile)

  5. This is resonating with me right now, in many ways. Our dryer broke last week, but the weather has been unpredictable which makes a clothesline seem awfully risky. (Not unlike my life following Christ.) I've been patient with my laundry indoors, but am thinking that a line will be my reality very soon. But as a homeschooling mom I need to accept those stagnant days confident that God will finish this work, and if (a big if) I surrender to him I can find rest in the undone, rest in the stagnant, and rest in the unpredictable. As we push towards the end of the school year this has been very hard, I appreciate your words and the reminder to be patient with God's processes.

  6. Oh, this hits me. I have so many good memories of my mom and I hanging wet clothes out on the line to dry. It was a process, but it was loads of good quality time.

  7. Lucky you to have a clothesline. I have lots of memories of hanging clothes out with my aunts. Something so fresh and natural about it and you're right, it's a good time to think or pray.

    And I can identify with the finger tapping in traffic too. I wake up every day ready to roll, but I've found that the recent storms, power outages, and the varying schedules and needs of my people, mean that a lot of days my agenda and what actually plays out look very different. I truly believe that God is teaching me to be flexible and roll with the punches with a good attitude. Maybe I need that more than I need to mark something off my "to do" list.

  8. I don't know you, Scooper, but I have been praying for you and your three little ones. Your posts always move me, make me think, and push me closer to God.

  9. Thanks for this......
    It too reminded me of summer days when my mom would hang the wash. I now love to hang out sheets and towels!

  10. This, my dear friend, is absolutely brilliant. Liturgy in laundry. Yes indeed. This is wonderful and inspirational and all the things that I need to read today. My life has been full of rush-hurry-rush-go-fight-win lately. No slowing down, no savoring, no chance for real communion.

    I think I need clothesline. Clothesline? I think you should call it your lifeline.

    Thank you for writing.


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