Because in the school of the Spirit,
man learns wisdom through humility,
knowledge by forgetting,
how to speak by silence,
how to live by dying.
-Johannes Tauler

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"dirty" laundry

Was anyone else raised this way? We used our towels once growing up...and then put them in the dirty clothes pile. I think my family still does this, but I long ago dropped this habit out of necessity (a girl can only have so many towels in her dorm room, and can only do so much laundry!) However recently, I've noticed that I often do this with my clothes: I wear them and take them off and put them in the hamper and don't usually give a second thought to whether they're clean or dirty or smelly or disheveled or in perfectly good shape - into the washer they will go, anyway! 

The beautiful thing about getting older is that we become wise enough, or at least speculative enough, to question all that we have been taught from a young age and make a choice. Sometimes that choice includes a change for ourselves, but just because I have now begun to do things differently in my own life does not mean I need to subject anyone in my family to making a change as well.

So I'm trying to wash my laundry less, and trying to realize that things aren't as dirty or as bad as they seem. A freshly washed wardrobe is not going to get me closer to heaven, and just as clothes do not need to be perfectly pressed, neither do people. In many things, there is a poverty (and sanctifying grace!) in accepting how things even when we know how they could be, and shifting our focus to the really important questions of our pilgrimage on earth: "Am I striving for holiness?" and "Am I helping those around me do the same?" Poverty is detaching from the pursuit of worldly perfection, yet always reaching for that perfection to which our Heavenly Father calls us (Mt. 5:48) and bringing others with us. St. Augustine says, "Do not allow yourselves to be offended by the imperfect while you strive for the perfect." This strikes right at my heart because it is something I struggle with so often. I do need to do a little laundry: soul laundry. I should be focused on washing my soul more often than washing my clothes...if it isn't actually dirty or smelly or disheveled then I don't need to wash it. What I do need to do is start looking at the things that do stink in my life - my sins - and in the poverty of humility, confess them. The laundry detergent of reconciliation is free, as the Lord of mercy and compassion gives it freely through Jesus Christ, and it smells sweeter than all the fragrances of the world. + 

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