Sitting at the airport during a layover, I noticed clusters of people in distinct places. A closer look revealed that they were all sitting in areas surrounding electrical outlets where their phones or laptops were plugged in. They were oblivious to one another, but all had gathered in the same areas for the same purpose. In this electronic age, it’s easy to do. We can sit next to each other, across from each other, be in the same room, or at the same gathering and not be in the present moment aware of those that are sharing our spaces and our lives.
I recently attended the first National Laundry Love Gathering. Laundry Love is about people, presence and provision. There is something simple and sometimes profound about meeting at the laundromat and hanging out together. That’s what we do at Laundry Love. We come face to face with each other, as we each live out our own unique story. Most of our stories include at least one chapter on hardship. The beauty of finding friends at the laundromat is we find that we have more in common than dirty laundry.
I realize this is part of what has helped me fall in love with Laundry Love in general and the people in particular. The fourth Saturday of every month is set aside. Set aside to meet new people, to help with the costs of laundry and occasionally to be let into their lives in ways we could never have anticipated. We are aware of each person who walks in, talk with those who want to talk, respect the privacy of those who don’t, play with the kids, help carry laundry in, offer snacks and help in whatever other ways we can.
There is something striking about presence; about living in the moment and being fully aware of those around us. It is why most of our gratitude lists contain some of the simplest things. When we are fully present, we are mindful… and thankful … for the laughter, the sunset, time with our friend, or any of the other things that bring joy to our lives.
I also understand this about God: He is “I Am.” He is ever present, always personal. He cares deeply for people and pays special attention to children, orphans, widows and the poor. When I am present with others, I can better represent the One who loves each of us best.
Today I challenge myself to be more aware and less consumed with messages, notifications, lists and emails. Laundry Love has helped teach me the value of time together with no agenda. It has taught me that being present is most important and that generosity of spirit is a key to empathy and connecting with others. I want to do a better job of living in the here and now.
Abundance is discovering true gifts by being present.