Monday, March 7, 2011

Simple Service

I awoke this morning thinking about my hours spent at the laundromat yesterday.  Grace arrived on time for services like every Sunday, bringing her house laundry she does house (wash, towels, sheets etc) on Sunday and personal clothes washing on Wednesday.  This she said gives her balance and ensures all areas of her life are refreshed once a week.  So while her towels and sheets washed and dried we took turns reading from different scriptures.  This Sunday she read from the Bhagavad gita and I read a passage from Romans. 

Grace read from the Karma Yoga article

"To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction"(2.47)[52]

I then read: Romans 4:3-5

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

Grace said Amen, and then went to fold her laundry, handing me a clean table cloth to place on the folding table.  We each made a few treats as we found that everyone doing their laundry that Sunday could also enjoy, cookies, cake or crackers and cheese.  We never overdid it and this Sunday she made some cupcakes a variety of chocolate and strawberry (I prefer chocolate so I was quite happy).  We also had some water and coffee and tea.  Everyone chatted for a while then Grace and I would pull up a couple of chairs and discuss the scriptures we read. 

I really enjoyed this part because here I am running a laundromat on the eastside of the city and getting to discuss the worlds religious scriptures with a professor emeritus with a Masters in World Religion. I felt extremely fortunate and our conversations usually always lasted for a couple of hours.

We first started with what we thought the meaning of "let not the fruits of action be thy motivation..." .   Well I let Grace speak first because she knew where she was taking this.  Grace said she thought that we as believers in a creator needed to beware of our actions and not to always expecting something given back when we are choosing to give. For example;  if we serve and help others here at the laundromat on Sunday providing food and drink, we can not expect them to give back to us, or expect others to look at us as special,  that the service we do for others is sufficient unto itself. I really liked how she explained that and understood and fully agreed with that.  She poured me another cup of coffee and then we started on the next reading.

Here is where I had to come in with something to throw out to start the discussion, I took the phrase "knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:" from what I read outloud.

I had to confess to Grace that this verse really hit home for me, by the sheer fact that I lost my dear husband Frank last year about this time to a heart attack.  To say the least I am just starting to get over it, and getting used to be alone.  Losing Frank I said was definitely a tribulation for my soul and it took a lot of time and patience to come to and accept the understanding that he was not coming back to me.  Then I added that yes, learning patience and living with the experience of loss was finally after all this time blossoming into hope.  A hope that there is more for me to do here and I had to let Frank go so I could do it. 

That is about as much as I could get out and Grace could see that.  She said, "My dear one I really think that is enough for this Sunday, don't you?  Here let's clean up and we can talk again later in the week."

I agreed, for talking about Frank was something I had not found myself talking about at all since I lost him and I really did not know it would hit me so hard.  I thanked Grace for her kindness, and I helped her load her clean linens into her car and said good-bye. 

In watching her drive away, I knew it was good for me to talk about Frank and maybe I will talk about him a little more during the week. I thought about it as I wrote this memo but no more for today on what happend Sunday and I am calling it a day.  For I am still a little taken back so I will leave it another day until tomorrow. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Oh Happy Days

Well it is Sunday and Grace usually shows up at the laundromat by 10 I need to get the place ready for services.  Services I mean because it is Sunday and Grace comes to the laundromat instead of church for worship.  It took me a little while to deduct from her behavior over sometime that she was coming to the laundromat every Sunday for a reason.  But slowly over the past two years of getting to know her she finally started  feeling comfortable enough with me to start revealing the inner makeup of self and her mind. 

She said it all started a little over two years ago on a bridge in her car during rush hour.  It was in the remaining days of her career right before her retirement from her professorship at the university. She had given 35 years of her life to that place and to her students, and her fellow academics; holding a PhD. in Cultural Anthropology and a Masters in both English Lit and World Religions.  That particular late afternoon she was going to meet some colleagues for drinks and dinner and go over some memories they shared over the past years, and that takes me back to the bridge.   

Well Grace was stuck on the bridge as traffic had stopped for a over couple of minutes or more so she turned on the radio looking for something to occupy her mind before the traffic started moving again.  And here it all starts coming...the song "O Happy Days" by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, and Grace said she found herself singing along as it took her back to the early 70's when she was just finishing up undergraduate studies.  That and all the memories of the 70's Jesus movement, Godspell and the Singing Nun, and as she sang the sun gleamed against the bridge and an angel appeared right there in front of her, a larger than heaven angel with wings as white as baby chicken feathers.  An angel she thought here on the bridge this was June of 2008 not unlike the revelations she studied and taught her students about over the years.  She said she thought, "what I am I suppose to take away from this", then he (the angel) looked right at her when the Hawkins Singers rang out louder...

" Oh Happy Day (oh happy day)
   Oh Happy Day (oh happy day)
  when Jesus washed,
  oh when Jesus washed,
  mm when he washed, (when he washed)
  He washed all my sins away...
  Oh Happy Day..."

An overwhelming peace and sense of purpose came over her she said as if she was the only person on earth and she then knew exactly what she had to do.  The traffic started moving again and when she got to the other side of the bridge she started looking for the first laundromat she could find.  She felt she needed cleansing both her and her clothes felt gritty and dirty still covered with sin upon sin of her past lives and she needed to get clean inside and out and what better place than a laundromat. 

Well Grace found a laundromat just on the outskirts of the city, went inside and found a Maytag top loader put some coins in started filling it with the hottest water on the dial,  took off all her clothes and placed them in the washer with some Ajax laundry soap from the vending machine. But before she shut the lid she put her head near the opening and splashed water on her head and face baptizing herself in her new found faith.   She was now going to put on the armor of her belief and wear it proudly like a new age St Joan of Arc and the only way anyone was going to take her from it was to burn her at the stake, but she was ready now. She felt relieved and totally renewed sighed and took a sit waiting for her clothes to finish washing. 

You guessed it not everyone in laundromat felt as one with her redemption, especially the mothers that had little children with them, and someone called the police.  They showed up, two cars of them and coming in put a blanket around her and said they would have to remove her from the premises.  Grace said she told them that she had no problem with that but would they mind if they waited for her clothes to finish the rinse and spin cycle, she didn't care if they were dry but they had to be clean and sin free.   They nicely complied and sat with her for ten minutes as her clothes finished.  She explained to them what had happened to her on the bridge and that now she was a different person coming off the bridge from the person entering onto the bridge.  That she now was cleansed.

The police listened to her story then gently took her and her clean clothes to the nearest mental health facility in the area.  Grace said they were all very nice to her there and held her for two days until a professor friend of hers came and took her home.  She never did make it to her dinner obviously or to her retirement party but that didn't phase her for that was all past and now she had real purpose and willingly closed the door on that chapter of her life. 

But that takes me all back to here and Sunday services at my laundromat.  Grace knew she could not go back to the original laundromat where is was baptized so she found one close to her home on the east side of the city, which is right here.  She said she found my laundromat friendly and clean with members in need of help and prayer, and truthfully I am so glad this is the laundromat she chose.  Well it is almost ten I think she has just pulled up so I had better go for now.  Have a great day.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Finding Grace...

I am not Grace nor is Grace, Grace.  Grace is the name of a women I met at the laundromat, when and where does not matter, it could any laundromat even the one in your neighbor-hood.  As far as me, well definitely my name has no significance here, for this discourse is all about Grace and grace as in amazing.

So in as much as I have already said regarding these letters I will remain anonymous with Grace's real name being concealed to protect her soul and the laundromat from any legal action or liabilities.  The only thing I will divulge about myself is I work at the laundromat so you can find me there seven days a week.  I hope you come by, bring your laundry and if you don't have any dirty laundry, well just stop in I'll buy you a coffee or soda whatever you prefer.   You may even find Grace.....

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Crazy Grace

Burn it does, I mean
I do, the thoughts in my fingers
What do you do with fire you can not eat whole
And thowing water (or bourbon) on
only makes it flame higher,
I get higher - just watching it burn. Burn, burning
creating words out of ash I
press to my face consumed by a vision
of Grace and redeemable prose. Crazy grace,
it's crazy