The No-Laundry-On-Sunday Sabbath...


The Friday afternoon I wait for my mother’s arrival, I can only imagine how our lives are about to change.

Years-in-the-making rhythms of daily prayers, scripture reading, and study, as well as weekly Sabbath worship and rest, are like breathing, eating, and morning coffee. It wouldn’t be life without them, but their practice is as unique and changing as my circumstances. Soul anchors - with long ropes that stretch and adapt to fluctuations in my abilities and responsibilities – they are drastically altered the moment my mother is wheeled through our front door on a stretcher.

Mother grimaces as the men who drove the medical transport van slide her onto the hospital bed in the middle of what used to be our master bedroom. Disabled and with dementia, mother doesn’t say a word. She trembles, cold and afraid; and though I remind her, she’s confused about where she is and who I am. Her clothes are drenched with sweat and urine, and the drivers offer no explanation for what happened to the catheter she should have had when they picked her up at the rehab center hours earlier.

When the men leave, I fill the bathroom sink with warm water and remove her wet clothes. I give her a bath, dress her in clean clothes, and the reality that I’m on my own sinks in. Any confidence I had that I could care for my mother as well or better than those who had been caring for her for weeks slowly evaporates as I wonder what can be done - late on a Friday afternoon - about her need for a catheter and the blistering bedsores I discover on both her heels.

Two days later, my family leaves for church without me – the first of many Sundays, field trips, sports and social events I’m left behind. Mother’s complicated care is my responsibility alone. A Sabbath and any measure of leisure time I may have carved out of our family’s schedule, including homeschooling two teenage boys and their younger sister, disappear in the feeding, changing, bathing, dressing and meeting mother’s complex needs.

Beginning with feeding her breakfast, my routine with mother is the same every day. I give her a bath and dress her in clean clothes. Using a mechanical lift, I move her out of bed into a sheepskin-lined geriatric chair that I can move around the house and onto the porch. Before the morning is over, I make her bed with fresh linens. Every. Single. Day. With massages, diligent care, and good hydration and nutrition, her bedsores begin to heal. I’m not inclined to change a thing.


Mother’s laundry alone is more than a washer load. When added to the rest of the family’s dirty sheets and clothes, keeping the laundry under control means washing at least two loads every day and more over the weekend is added to the routine.

One Sunday, I’m aware I’ve created no room for a Sabbath rest or the grace and manna that comes from trusting God for my needs. I consider what work I can cease for a day without compromising mother’s care, and though it’s a little thing, I give into the nudge to not do laundry on Sunday.

I release my grip on control and open my hands to receive this small measure of Sabbath rest, and I’m given God’s unique-to-me redemption of time and energy. Mondays – with twice the laundry workload added to caring for mother and homeschooling – are amazingly not more difficult.

Thirteen years ago this past Easter my no-laundry-on-Sundays end when Mother leaves our home on Pollywog Creek for Heaven. Whatever Sabbath God offers me today, I receive with gratitude and the confidence that, no matter the circumstances, it will miraculously be more than enough.

{This post is in response to THC invitation here.}