Clothesline Spiritual Practice

by | May 13, 2015 | Ordinary, Reflections

“The ordinary activities I find most compatible with contemplation are walking, baking bread, and doing laundry. ”
The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women’s Work
By Kathleen Norris

It’s spring. And I take great joy in hanging the clothes out on the line to dry.
It’s an art.

grandmother laundry

I try to hang the largest first and end with the tiny things.
(It usually ends a bit lobsided.)
I know others who hang their clothes by colour.
And some who make delightful rainbow lines.


It was Kathleen Norris first, and later, Barbara Brown Taylor,
who taught me to offer little prayers of gratitude
for each piece of laundry,
little breaths of blessing
for the wearers of the clothes
or the occasions for the wearing.

A line of laundry
like little prayer flags in the breeze.

(The picture is an old family print. It is my grandmother, Loretta (Mutch) MacLean hanging out her load of laundry.)

Recent Posts

Blog Categories




  1. What a blessing this is! And you are so fortunate to have the photo.

  2. I follow four generations of Mac Lean women who still hang out clothes on the line since sometime after 1820! It is good for the soul!

  3. It is one of my most favourite things to do, especially at our 100 year old farm house during the summer. I enjoy watching it blow in the wind and have often tried to catch the feeling with my camera. Thanks for sharing this with us, Janice.

  4. I love the idea of prayers and gratitude for each piece of laundry.Yes a clothes line of prayer and gratitude offered up to the wind and going out to the Universe.Powerful image. Thanks for sharing .

  5. Oh, Janice! I remember all the clothes on the line when we lived in Cape Breton – a practice much more common there than here on the prairies! I love the idea of prayers and gratitude, too, and will try to remember next time I hang out the wash. I am so glad when the weather warms up enough to do that. I love the smell of sheets fresh from the line! Thank you!

  6. I can’t say I’ve yet learned to love doing laundry – or indeed any domestic chore. But I like the idea of hanging out my wash with these prayers in mind- even though in my case the clothes are all for me, I can think also about where I got them- perhaps when out shopping with my mother, perhaps as a gift, perhaps as a welcome hand-me-down from people I know or unknown people who donated them to Value Village, perhaps for a particular occasion. As I hang out my wash, when I get around to hanging it out that is, I’ve often thought of the spiritual metaphor: Spirit/Wind is doing the work for me, if I just do my part in cooperating.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *