Toward the end of last year a card from a friend arrived. One line was very thought provoking as it suggested that the pandemic was a time for laundry of the soul. That line and its ramifications have been a companion during the last few months. All of us have thoughts about laundry. Do I do it on a schedule, or wait for the laundry bag to be full, or when we look in the closet and discover there truly is nothing to wear? We’ve all been there.
But laundry for the soul is far different. It calls us to take stock of our relationship with God and to ask the question, “Are we speaking, are we fighting, are we on hold, or have we just drifted apart?” A “yes” to any one of these is an invitation to explore, to look for the cause. For this to be fruitful we need time and space. And, thanks to the pandemic there is plenty of both.
Laundry of the soul is an emptying of the closet of our soul and triaging the contents. This is hard work as some of what is in the closet has deep emotional hooks in us. For instance, there is “the fight with Uncle Louie” that happened 40 years ago and you are still mad. You can’t remember what the fight was about but you are sure that you are right and he is wrong. And then there is the older brother who got all the attention and left you with feelings of not being good enough. Or, and God forbid you admit you believe you are always right no matter what the facts are. And of course, there is the music teacher who strongly suggested that your singing ability was not something to pursue as a career. We all have our own list and everything on the list contaminates our relationship with God. Our task is to admit it is there and then the really hard part, letting go of our list.
This is what laundry of the soul provides for us, a new chance, a new beginning, a new hope without all the baggage. Lent provides us with the time to look at what we would like the future to be. What do we need to put in our laundry bag and load by load run through the machine? By the time Easter arrives we will truly be able to look in our closet and feel a sense of relief and freedom, a sense of standing up again. Just as we need to do our regular laundry, so we need to do a laundry of our soul again and again for it is what keeps us honest in our relationship with God.
At 3 pm on July 20, 1995 the Dominican Sisters of Hope were founded. On July 20, 2019, we began our 25th year since our founding. We declare a YEAR OF HOPE! In celebration, we will share a reflection on the 20th of every month. This is the nineteenth reflection in this series. Read all reflections here.
This reflection was written by
Dominican Sister of Hope Madeleine Tacy, OP
Sister Madeleine Tacy, OP, D.Min, is a Dominican Sister of Hope who lives in Dartmouth, MA. She has served as a teacher, spiritual director, counselor, and campus minister. Sister Madeleine is a member of the Jonathan Edwards Honor Society and the White Plum Sangha. She began her meditation practice in 1972 with a house of prayer experience. In 1999, she began studying with Father Kevin Hunt, OSCO, Roshi. In 2018, she received transmission from him. Sister Madeleine is now a Sensei in the Day Star Sangha and a registered member of the White Plum Sangha, the professional organization for Soto Zen in the USA.