A chill rushed through the open windows as a storm approached. A load of laundry tumbled in the dryer. After several hours at the desk writing, I stood. As always, my hips and knees didn’t want to move at first.
Friday afternoons are a time to steward items in the house back to their places, but it was really cold, so first I walked around closing one window after the next. I wondered if I should turn on the heat, as I rubbed my shoulders and slid into the laundry room. Aaaaah! I held the warm bundle of clothes a few extra seconds before dumping them on top of the machine to begin folding—my first step toward pulling the house together so I could finally relax. I wanted to get going and onto the relaxing part.
As I began sorting the family’s clothes I was struck with affection.
There was no particular reason. In fact, there was discord in one of my relationships and worry in another. Not feelings I would expect to draw out the stunning affection that welled in me. As if to compound the wonder of my experience, I thought,
I’ve folded thousands of loads of laundry.
I do two to three loads of laundry a week. Since I’ve been married to Nog for twenty-seven years, taking into account that I’ve been doing laundry much longer than that and Nog has helped do laundry for years, that means I’ve done at least 4,000 loads of clothes! The sheer number of times I’ve processed laundry can make the chore so mundane as to be mind-numbing or aggravating.
Why was I overcome with love?
The affection helped me to pay closer attention to my thoughts and movements. I felt affection for each individual and our relationship. As soon as I felt affection the clothes looked different; felt different. The clothes had meaning and my wish to rush disappeared.
I held one of Nog’s shirt to my face and smelled it; a pair of Meena’s pants to my heart. I carefully gathered Pavana’s socks. Each item of clothing filled me with intense joy.
Without realizing it at first, I began to think of each person as a spiritual Being. When I noticed this and dwelt more about what it means to be a spiritual Being in a material body in this world, happiness surged more.
Like me, my family members struggle with their shortcomings. Like me, they are trying to find what is real and true. Like me, they are searching. Isn’t this the human reality? We’re all searching.
We are searchers.
We seek inner freedom, to become better people, to conquer our fears, to find significance and meaning in the world.
We think we’re searching for money or relationships, toys, fun, or glamour. But we’re really searching for our identity and we want our true Self to be loveable (I think we’re scared to death that if we uncover who we really are we’ll be despised). We’re searching for how we can step over our death and the mundane into Life.
As these thoughts filled me, I contemplated deeply how each person I contact—in my family or outside—is on their own tailored spiritual journey, no matter how different it looks from mine. They may be unaware they’re on a spiritual journey.
As I folded everyone’s clothes, I felt close to them. I felt one among them in an honorable, difficult quest. So often I feel like I’m alone in a desert of unknowing. At this moment, I felt companionship and wonder that I was able to stand in the laundry room to serve these souls in my life.
As the stacks of clothes, sorted by person grew, so did my gratitude that I could impact their journey in even a miniscule way—a way they may not even be aware or appreciative of. I don’t need their recognition to feel fulfilled. Love itself does that.
In offering service, my life is enriched.
If I offer service with the spiritual love I felt as I folded the laundry—with understanding that as I am a spiritual Being so are all others, and we are connected in a divine web of existence—I transcend my limitations and smallness and become a vessel of love. As an instrument of spiritual love, I step over the mundane and my own death and into Life. Why?
When I see others as spiritual Beings and respond with loving actions I act outside the bounds of the material world and touch spirit.
My spiritual teacher was fond of a saying, “Put the iron rod in the fire long enough and it acts just like fire.” Iron is a cold metal. Often our hearts are frigid or rigid. But heat the iron rod and it will be able to ignite a fire. Modify our vision and act accordingly—act from our Conscious Heart—and our Heart will warm and melt into its spiritual state.
If there is any definition of spirituality, or transcendence, it is this: loving service to the Divine.
And to reach divinity, all we have to do is turn and look at the person next to us; remember they are searching for their true Self and that we share the same quest and a relationship with the Divine.
Then ask yourself, “How will I give this person a taste of the unconditional love that we all so desperately hanker for at the deepest core of our Being?”
Let me count the ways . . . Let me do the laundry!
May doing your laundry draw out love,