This morning I gathered the laundry from the main floor of the house and carried it upstairs. The towels were stiff with tears and spilled milk. Tiny britches caked in mud and fancy bloomers stained blue with ink bounced on top of the pile. I love those little bloomers. They were the final step in dressing my daughters in church dresses. “Restore me to my original beauty,” I whispered.
Even though she’s not considered a saint in the Orthodox Christian tradition, I keep an image of Hildegard of Bingen in my laundry room. In a little book of medieval prayers, I treasure her words on the Incarnation – “he bleached the agony out of his clothes.”
We are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, not as clothing, but as power and energy, eating Him as the immortal life craved by creatures made for communion with the everlasting God.
I think of clothing and healing and energy and purification and redemption and communion as I pull clothing in and out of machines and fold and tug and stack and store.
Theosis happens here in the care of our sacred bodies.
But it also happens when the laundry pile gets too high because of an illness or a visit or a project. It happens when the littles tromp into the house caked in sand and clay, and I look at them through the mud and speak to the living creature in that clay that God was thinking of when he made the first of us.
Tertullian said that when God fashioned Adam in the clay, he was thinking of the Son of God who would one day take flesh. That truth hums through the little green laundry room, mixing with the smell of cleaners and fresh clothes and mud and ink to proclaim a humble gospel.
Theosis happens in the mud.