Two weeks ago, on our walk, I told you that I would talk about laundry. Now that is a strange subject for a pastor to speak about, but it is one of my responsibilities in my retirement. Dale does not like to do laundry, and I do not like to cook. I’ve often said that one of the things I cannot do is cooking and baking,and I am hoping that it will remain that way for the rest of my life. I will make beds, hang curtains ( although Dale usually does that) make repairs on household Items, paint rooms etc., but I am never going to learn to cook. So, let’s get back to the laundry.
The laundry in our home is usually done on Monday and Friday. There is a blue laundry bag for the colored clothes and a white one for the white clothes. It is difficult to bend way over to put the dirty clothes into the laundry bags from out of the deep hampers. The last sock is usually hard to get! When the two bags are filled, I toss them down the staircase yelling, “It’s not me falling; it’s just the laundry coming down.” Then I drag those bags into the cellar. I wish the laundry was on the second floor but that cannot be in our home. Anyway, the cellar is my hangout so I’m comfortable down there. I can change the laundry from the washing machine to the dryer while I continue to work on a shop project.
When I was a young boy, the laundry appliances were alsodown in the basement. On Mondays, my mother would sort all of the laundry for the nine members of our family and begin the first wash. If we children were at home, we would take the clothes out of the washing machine and put them in a basket, start a new load of laundry and then carry the washed laundry outside to where there were numerous rope lines on which to hang the laundry to dry.
Sometimes there was so much laundry that my mother would ask our next-door neighbor Mrs. Coughlin if she could use some of her lines in her yard. Mrs. Coughlin who had only two children could not believe the amount of clothing my mother would hang out to dry. My mother did her tasks, hung the laundry so fast that we would often find broken clothes pins on the ground where they had fallen.
My mom would send us out to bring the laundry in and we would struggle to pull the clothespins from the line. Sometimes my mother would have done her work so fast and hard that we would have to rock the pin back and forth to have it release the piece of clothing it held. In late Autumn and winter, the clothes would be frozen to the line, and then it was almost impossible to get the stiff clothing off of the clothesline. How grateful my mother was (and so were we children) for the invention of the dryer.
Now as strange as this might sound, I take pride in the laundry I do. At first, it was just a task to complete; now it is a challenge to do it well. At first, I was not careful about foldingthe laundry; now I look at the basket with folded laundry and think that is a job well done. Oh, by the way I do not leave the laundry in the basket I put it away for both Dale and for me.
As time has passed, the charge for having shirts cleaned by a professional has become exorbitant. So, I decided that I could save money by washing the shirts myself and carefully hanging them on hangers. By gory, I have become proficient at that, and I am saving us a grand amount of money. Are you smiling at this? I hope so. If Dale calls me on her phone when I am down cellar with my beloved dryer and washing machine, I answer the phone “Ken’s Laundry.” Another thing about laundry…. do you know how good warm clothing from the dryer feels on your arthritic hands?
Laundry gives me exercise. When the clothing is all folded,it has to be lugged upstairs. I come up from the cellar carrying the basket just one step at a time because of my vertigo. Thirteen steps from the cellar to our first floor. That is good for my health.
Ken, what has this to do with our walk and our faith and our present day?
It has to do with this. A task worth doing should be well done. A task like this brings back happy childhood memories. Do you know we had a washing machine when I was young that only washed the clothes, and you had to get the water out of them by turning a crank and putting the clothing between two rollers? It was called a wringer. How’s that for ancient history?
The task of doing laundry is helpful to my wife whom I so love. I’m making life easier for her. Loving and being kind to someone is a part of our faith, isn’t it? But I would even go beyond that – there is a passage in Isaiah that says this:
“ Wash yourselves and make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes.
Cease to do evil
Learn to do good;
Reprove the oppressor,
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
Come now let us reason together, says the Lord,
Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be white as snow;
Though they shall be red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.”
As a laundry man, I wash clothes and make them clean, but what about my life? As I look back over my years do, I not have sins that are as scarlet? I wash clothing but what of my soul? Have I always sought to do good, to seek justice, to speak against the oppressor? Have I defended the fatherless and pled for the widow? If not, says God, then you must wash yourself clean. With the love of God, with our Lord Jesus Christ, we can turn those past mistakes and sins those scarlet wrong doings in our lives into whiteness as of snow, as pure and as white as washed clean wool.
We are living in uncharted days at present. Is this not a good time to reflect on our lives, to ask for forgiveness for the wrongs we have committed in our lives, forgiveness for those sins of intention or of innocence? Our God, our example Jesus Christ, repeats the words of Isaiah to us. “Wash you and make yourself clean – though your sins are like scarlet they shall be as white as snow.” Amen.
I will look for you again next week that we might walk together once more with our Savior beside us. Until then –
“May the Lord walk between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”