And for once I was SuperMom

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dirty Laundry

Earlier this week I met my husband, his assistant, and his twelve students out on the Colorado Trail.  We hiked Mount Massive together.  At the end of the hike I gathered up their old stinky clothes, their trash, and gave them new clothes and new food.
Today I washed their  laundry.  I dumped out the black trash bag; the pile of mesh, quick-dry, and wool smelled like a mix of garlic, meat, and smoke.  Exactly the way mine smelled seven years ago when I completed my student trip in a similar backpacking leadership program.  I smiled, humanity, we all smell the same at the end of the day.  Or the end of a week spent hiking in the woods.
I knew when they handed me the bag that I would wash it.  I couldn't leave it sitting for two weeks.  The smell would fell trees.
I decided I would fold it and lay it out on a table to they could find what they needed.  I washed it in a mixture of soap, oxi clean, and a cup of white vinegar.  I washed each load twice, with vinegar both times.  The thing about backpacking clothes is that the smell isn't terrible, it just lingers.  It infests the clothes, almost has a life of it's own.  You can't wash other items with the clothes, the smell will take over.  It will only die after many, many washings.  This beast is only aided in it's existence by the fact that most hiking clothes are made out of synthetics and wool, fabrics that retain smell.
I hung a drying line and hung each item up, the Colorado sun and wind would whisk away more smell than any dryer could.  As I hung the clothes, I kept thinking, 'I don't think I would have done this before I became a parent.'  Something about having children, seeing and caring for these little ones makes me think of everyone person as that.  We were all children once.  We were all birthed, we all squalled when we needed love, some of us got it and some of us didn't.
I read Mother Teresa's book last year.  Expecting great wisdom from this woman that embodied Christ's kindness.  Expecting earth shattering advice.  Expecting standards that I could not live up to.  But over and over again she said, 'Go home, love your family.'  Go home, love your family.  Love those next to you.  I can't go to Calcutta and comfort those with leprosy.  But I can wash some laundry.
No, these college students aren't the least of these, most of them have some sort of privilege.  But they are people.  They are someone's baby.
Maybe one day when someone hands them a bag of stinky laundry, they'll just wash it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lara, I finally got around to clicking on the link to your blog and read this post. A tear came to my eye as I realized I've never met you, but my daughter's clothes were among those you washed! First of all I thank you profusely for exposing yourself to those foul smelling garments - and so many of them!!! It really was a sacrificial gift you gave my daughter and the rest of the team. I'm sure they also appreciated the fresh supplies you gave them both times you went out to meet them. God bless you and from the bottom of my heart - thank you!
~Su Geiger