Sacred Life Sunday: Ironing Alchemy


The result of one of my favorite start-of-the weekend chores — ironing our homemade cloth napkins for the week ahead.


The hot smell of  iron on cotton rises to me in a hiss of steam. I spread the cheerful colors beneath my palm, watch them smooth and ease against the board. Fold. Press. Steam.

There are never enough to match ’round the table. Never enough clean when company comes. But these napkins are ours, made by hand, pressed each week in a rite of gratitude.

Soon they will grace our chattery meals, be waved about in emphasis over a funny story, wipe mouths that have never known hunger.

This is alchemy –  a chore becoming prayer, a napkin transformed to a vestment.

What everyday spirituality moment are you treasuring today?

Bethany May 17, 2009 at 10:34 am

I adore your napkin patterns so much you may have just convinced me to invest in cloth napkins of our own! Beautiful.
My husband and I were just talking yesterday about how laughing with our girls in those family ticklefests on our big bed is one of the ways we enjoy God best. The further I get from organized religion, the more I love to discover new forms of “everyday spirituality.”

gem May 17, 2009 at 11:53 am

love this post.
everyday moment i am enjoying – rising in the wee hours of the morning to birdie chatter, to writing hands, a receiving heart, to hope.
in light,

rowena May 17, 2009 at 3:54 pm

This is inspiring, but I’m not quite sure how to do it. or maybe I’m just not there right now. I always feel like I should be somewhere else, doing something else, always on the move, always trying to find the next thing.

I suppose I need to just sit in the moment and exist and be where I am.

Like when I am stumbling through learning the guitar as I play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to my kids every night before bed. Even if they are playing instead of paying attention. Or eating dinner in the garden enjoying the subtropical evening. Or reading my googlereader and coming upon inspiration after inspiration as I go through my blog subscriptions.

Life is always about learning and being open to new thoughts and ideas and inspirations as well as existing in this very moment, and I think it’s getting me to this place that you talk about.

Kristina May 17, 2009 at 5:16 pm

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Jill May 17, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Love the colors of the napkins – beautiful imagery for the blog entry :)

I also love that you pointed out the importance of finding spiritual moments in the little things in life – I truly think that each moment is full of love and you just have to tap into the all-consuming, simple beauty of the moment. My everyday spirituality today is knowing thyself. As I become more in tune with myself – my body, mind, emotions, energies – I’m starting to figure out what makes me happy. I made a DELICIOUS breakfast that was exactly what I was craving. A simple, little moment that made me really happy. :)

Kel May 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm

with such bright and happy looking napkins it’s no wonder you have laughter and happiness around your dining table

i don’t like doing the ironing, but reading your evocative description of it, i thought perhaps i could learn to do it without the TV on to distract me . . .

which leads me to the everyday spirituality treasure I am trying to develop

learning to do one thing at a time
and not being distracted by multiple other tasks or ideas
so this week this will be my focus
to notice the hiss of the steaming iron
metaphorically speaking :)

Susan Young May 18, 2009 at 4:50 am

love it

~M~ May 18, 2009 at 7:57 am

Beautiful post.

Kathleen Krucoff May 18, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Great post. My moment is enjoying the warmth from our beautiful sunshine.

Diane May 19, 2009 at 1:46 am

what kind of iron?

Jenna/The Word Cellar May 19, 2009 at 3:11 am

I hardly ever iron, but when I do, it’s usually my husband’s work shirts — often because he’s too tired the night before or running late in the morning. Sometimes I feel resentment at this, especially if I’ve had to get out of bed too early. But I try to make a conscious choice to view the chore differently, to see it as an act of love. And there is a sweetness in it, especially since my husband is the one who taught me how to iron in the first place. Funny, I know.

la la May 20, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Every day on my drive to work
too long
too much traffic
i gaze at the sea on my left
and remember that there is more
more than my experience
more than humans
there is more

Rachelle May 20, 2009 at 6:57 pm

la la…


Cindy Spencer May 21, 2009 at 5:34 pm

I always laugh at myself because I enjoy ironing our napkins and placemats so much (I do not, however enjoy ironing anything else! – if my husband needs a shirt ironed, he does it!). So I resonated completely with this post. Love your napkins, too – I think I need to get busy and make some new colorful ones for summer!

Jenny Schroedel June 3, 2009 at 10:01 am


This is so beautiful. I wish we were closer geographically so we could chat it person–I think about this often–about finding ways to sanctify the little things in life, about transforming the must-do jobs into an encounter, about how all the little things are really not so little after all, especially not for those who experience tangible love through them.

For me, the task that is most like this is the nightly “tucking-in” of the kitchen. I usually tackle it after the kids have gone to bed, and in the quiet, left over moments, I enjoy loading the dishwasher, wiping down the counters, scouring the sink and stove. I’m not a great cleaner, but I always feel like as I do these tasks I am wrapping a gift for myself, to be opened in the morning, when I am fresh from sleep and bleary-eyed, when I will surely need a lift.

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