Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. It’s Guest Post Tuesday – that much you know – and I can’t wait for you to read what’s in store today. Because if you’re anything like me, Karen’s words will make time stand still. You’ll catch yourself holding your breath or thinking back to the clothesline of your childhood, and you’ll say, Yes, yes, this is good. Might you need and enjoy and breathe in these words today.
It’s a dance, between nature and the machine. Planning is involved: a check on the weather and time allowances to be considered. What will the children need this week? Does my husband have a meeting? Exactly how much rain are we expecting, for we are always expecting rain.
And even in the planning, the getting to know the distance between the clouds past the tree line and the movement of the sun, there is always room for error. It is Ireland, after all. We fly through North Atlantic air.
I thought I’d hate it, the need for it, but it grew on me, slowly and in conjunction with the surprise baby bump as it first appeared. The larger I grew, so did my need to hang it all out on the line. Laundry drying in the sun set my wind-whipped spirit at peace, a sort of obedience, a compliance with nature.
The idea was foreign at first, something I only saw in movies, or witnessed along the dirt roads bordering Kansas farmhouses. How can you not do it there, when the sky is as wide as eternity, when the nearest cloud is 100 miles away?
Where I stand now, clouds are always near, breezing over us, low to the ground and ever-changing. Five years, two countries and nearly a half dozen moves later, I return to the garden every summer. We have a dryer now, but I don’t care.
(I will care later, in the rains of early autumn and in the drizzle of December; in the long dark winter when socks and shirts decorate every radiator.)
My ears perk at the buzzer, merely two and a half hours after starting the wash. I step out my kitchen door and survey the postage stamp snapshot of sky bequeathed to me, hedging my bets. The sun is northeast, playing hide and seek with cumulus nimbus; the weather comes due west. I wager that from the trees beyond our neighbourhood park I might have a half hour’s worth of time, so I grab the lot and set to work.
My fingers dip for clothespins, clutching two at a time. My left hand holds the heavy weight of damp undershirts. I clip mismatched socks in three young sizes, little boy briefs imprinted with a green soccer ball.
There, I think. One bit done. Then another, and another.
Soon, our small patch of garden is resting beneath a multicolored canopy waving in the breeze. I pop in and out from the kitchen, eyes on the trees, the sky, checking the clothes and tea towels, flipping them over. As one thing dries, I replace it with another, stepping over surprises left by the dog.
When the bright whites are out, a flare fills the garden, burning my eyes. Bed linens fly like white flags. When the navies of school uniforms are hung, the scene is collegiate and cool, overwhelming me with the passage of time. Weren’t we just hanging cloth nappies, a never-ending parade of onesies?
I don’t know if I pray much out there, don’t know if there’s a stirring that’s quenched in the hanging and folding. Don’t know how much the Spirit reveals to me in these long days of summer.
But with each corner of fabric I affix on the line, I tick a small box in my soul. I feel a movement, a working together, harnessing the creation He gifted us with.
I am paying attention, finally going with Him, not against. One small act of saying, “Yes, I see, I’ll try it Your way,” knowing full well that while rain may hide just out of view, creation will keep its rhythm.
Karen Huber lives with her husband and three wily kiddos in Dublin, Ireland, where they work in community development, the arts and discipleship. When she’s not at home with her kiddos, she’s on the hunt for the perfect tortilla chip, writing in libraries, and laughing louder than is culturally appropriate. You can find Karen’s thoughts on motherhood, marriage, culture and faith at KarenOHuber.com or meet her on Twitter at @karenohuber.