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.

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Amazing Grace how Sweet the Sound that saved a Wretch like me...