Reaching into the washing machine, I remove the damp clothes, placing them in a laundry basket. I clip the tote of clothespins to the handle of my overflowing basket. Something about this simple process slows me down every time. As I open the door to step outside, making my way to the clothesline, the dogs run out ahead of me. The chickens scurry over to that side of the yard, instinctively wondering if I have brought them scraps of bread. I pull out one freshly laundered item at a time, for that’s the only way clothes can be placed on a line, and secure it in place with two or three clothespins. While I hang the clothes up, a bird or two usually happens by, on their way to the feeders we placed in the backyard.
I don’t hang my clothes on a line out of necessity. The dryer sits in the laundry room, right there beside the washer. I’m intentionally seeking things that take a little longer. Household chores connecting me to a simpler time, when country women like my granny did a whole slew of chores that required more focus, leaving less time for the distractions and noise we find ourselves immersed in today. Rather than hurriedly shoving my wet clothes in the dryer one wadded up bundle at a time so I can quick check social media or rapid-fire send off a sentence or two in a text, I step outside into the fresh air. Once there, the sun shines down on me in greeting. I find myself face to face with a whole host of animals who know nothing of the distractions vying for my time. Errand lists, school projects, writing goals, full days on the calendar; it all gets set aside every time I go out to see if the clothes are dry yet.
Depending on the time of year, I’ll notice the overgrown thicket beyond the clothesline offering up its bounty of black raspberries or blackberries, which sends me back inside momentarily to get a bucket for picking the fruit. The wildflowers change week by week, and before long, the leaves will join them in their own colorful display. I pay more attention to these things as I go about the mundane task of hanging my family’s clothes out to dry.
Other times of the year, I’ll search for new, small tasks I can do to purposefully slow my world down. In the fall, there’s preserving fruits and vegetables. Once winter arrives, I’ll bundle up to feed and water the chickens, looking for any eggs they may have hidden in the wood shavings we’ve put down to provide warmth against the cold. It’s my prayer God would meet me in these times. My approach to the minor endeavors in my everyday life make a huge difference in my ability to quiet my mind, and focus on the hundreds of little things going on around me. All the details I would otherwise miss, that point to a Creator who made all these good things; like dogs who run in the yard and wild berries that make the best-tasting cobblers.
Suddenly, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words,
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, yet our heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26 NIV)
All because I deliberately stepped outside to hang my clothes on the line.