What do you do with your dirty laundry? When I was a kid, we lived in a suburb of Detroit Michigan where a common household amenity was a laundry chute. In the one and only bathroom in our five- person home, there was a painted metal door that opened into a rectangular narrow tunnel that led to the basement. You could shove your dirty laundry down the chute and it would land in a pile on the basement floor, unless it got stuck. In which case mom would grab a pool stick from the pool table in the basement, poking and coaxing the laundry to take the plunge. I recall hearing of a boy who fell down the laundry chute and had to be rescued by the fire department. That nixed any thought I might have entertained about chute diving. From that point on I lived in reverent fear of the laundry chute but occasionally would peer cautiously into the abyss, hoping to catch a glimpse of the green and tan basement tiles below. The basement was where the washing machine lived, next to the large gray utility sink. This side of the basement housed the scary underbelly of our home. There was the hulking, clinking furnace. There was the incinerator, which had its own dark room with a rough cement floor. The incinerator was off limits because it was hot and when it was running there was a small opening at the bottom which offered a peep hole view of what looked like hell fire within.
The other side of the basement was a whole different story. On the other side of the stairway lived the aforementioned pool table, knotty pine walls, a comfy couch, TV, my books and toys. It was a preschooler paradise and haven for teens who wanted to hang out or make out. On hot summer afternoons, after spending the morning trapping grasshoppers and playing outdoors, my friend and I would take refuge from the heat in this peaceful, cool underground.
As I look back on the contrasting atmospheres in my basement, I realize something about the deepest places within myself. My body is the home of the many people I am… spirit, woman, friend, wife, mother, daughter of God and so much more. I contain places that are full of God’s love and light and the best of intention. I also contain potential for darkness and dirty laundry. Instead of hiding in the shadows, my “dirty laundry” needs to be pushed into the narrow chute of self-examination and thrown into the washing machine of truth and healing so that I can be all I was created to be. We so often avoid the shadowy side of ourselves out of shame and fear. But when we seek the necessary healing and forgiveness, we find ourselves coming out of the wash and hung in fresh air and sunshine, cleansed, renewed and smelling sweet. I ask you again…Where do you store your dirty laundry? As for me, I am going chute diving!