Having just returned from a meeting where I was able to talk about the many ways I have benefited from the unexpected adventures in my life (learning biblical languages, ministry internships in Kauai and Estonia, etc.), I came across another surprise. As I rounded the corner to turn into my room, I discovered two facilities workers checking the air quality there in. Their reader was picking up something from my bedding and clothing pile which I had just washed last Sunday. Upon further investigation, they discovered bacteria in the dorm's washer. With the washer out of commission, I set out with a dorm mate to a local laundromat, which was a new experience for us both. Needless to say, neither of us were particularly excited about this new adventure.
Upon arriving at the laundromat and getting the loads of wash underway, I was surprised at the sense of community that the place held. Having brought along several books, I was surprised at the lack of opportunity to really sit and read as I felt like I was constantly loading, unloading, checking dryers and feeding them more quarters, and folding. The others there were evidently regulars as well, sharing updates on their lives with the attendant and joking with one another as they went about doing their laundry. The sense of familiarity there among the people, of sharing the regular task of life together, and possibly the old tv playing an episode of Jeopardy which reminded me of being at my grandparents back when I was a little kid, made the place feel homey in a way that I had never anticipated.
As one born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I love the culture of coffee shops. There are hints of community at coffee shops, yet this laundromat provided a different, positive aspect of community, where instead of the quick two minute conversation in passing, conversations weaved in and out over the course of several hours amidst the responsibilities of life. Coffee is often available after a church service, bringing part of that culture into the life of the church. I wonder what it would look like to involve more of the laundromat style of community in our approach to church. Possibly it would be a community that still treasures the coffee times, whether it be the two minute conversation or the intentional coffee date, but also finds the space to work side by side doing the tasks of daily life and find joy in sharing in that aspect of life together.
Where are the areas where we do life together, alongside of others, either inside or outside our home?
I am happy to report that the washer in my dorm is now thoroughly cleaned out and back in working order and also that I resisted the temptation to put quarters into the pinball machine at the laundromat.
(Pictured is the view from the laundromat's parking lot)