Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Laundry Day

Today is significant for a number of reasons.  

First, it's my birthday, and as it seems to work out every year, I'm going to the laundromat to wash clothes.   This is not something I have planned as a tradition - it just sort of happens.  I'm not complaining; I actually don't mind doing laundry, and there's something fitting about getting garments clean to usher in a new age.

I have, in fact, been thinking a bit about clothing.  Eryl posted recently about her appreciation for high fashion, which made me think of the movie The Devil Wears Prada, which I then had to go watch again.  And I've encountered some biblical references to clothing recently that remind me of the theological term I made up a few years ago:  "pantstheism."  This is not the same thing as pantheism, which is the belief that the Divine is within and contained by creation and does not exist outside of it.  Pantstheism is basically an alternative to the word "panentheism," which is the concept that God exists within all of creation but also created it and is beyond it.  The creation of my term was inspired by Psalm 102: 25-27:
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
       and the heavens are the work of your hands.
 They will perish, but you remain;
       they will all wear out like a garment.
       Like clothing you will change them
       and they will be discarded.
 But you remain the same,
       and your years will never end.
The Divine is in the creation the way we are in our clothes.  Our favorite jeans and sweater take our shape, conform to our image, absorb the energy and scent of our bodies.  God is both the maker and the wearer of the garment that is creation.

This rumination has been coming to me in a new way lately, as I've been immersed in contemplating the distinctions between the inner and the outer life.  More than ever before, I'm focused on true inner change, deliberately turning my attention away from outer distractions, whether they be situations or thoughts.  Mostly thoughts.  Why don't I consider these thoughts part of the inner world, you may ask?  Because I'm increasingly seeing this kind of Monkey Mind thought as something that is actually foreign to my true Self, which is why it is so confusing, unpleasant, and even destructive to identify with it.  It's like wearing rough polyester clothing that's garish and too tight.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was dreading Lent - the dryness of the desert, the stripping away.  But I feel incredibly blessed to realize that the reason for this self-denial is to discover a joy and abundance so far beyond anything else that the stripping is a relief.  The analogy that jumps immediately to mind is that if you want to fully experience the ecstasy of physical intimacy, you have to take off your clothes.

But in the moment  before embrace there can be discomfort and disorientation; you are naked, and the room is too cold, the lights are too bright.  You doubt who you are without your clothes, and if you identify with those thoughts, the embrace will be diminished or avoided altogether.  I have had moments like this lately, too.  But unlike the past, I'm finding it in my Self to not become so identified with these thoughts that I go hide in the closet or get dressed again in fifteen layers of confusion.  And a large part of why I'm able to do this is because of blogging - being able to write and share my process with a supportive community that interacts with me by introducing me to wonderful resources or giving me helpful suggestions or simply listening and understanding.

Which leads me to another significance of this day, which is that this is my fiftieth post.  I have been blogging for just over five months, and in this time I have connected with some incredible people and reclaimed my voice as a writer.  I am continually astounded and inspired by the community I find myself part of here and its genuine effects on my life.

And so it's fitting that today I'm accepting an award from Entrepreneur Chick.  I feel somewhat ambivalent about blogging awards for a number of reasons that I don't want to lengthen this post by discussing, but this particular award is one I will be pleased to display on my blog because it's pretty and happy-inducing to look at.  And it has an orange flower!


I hereby dedicate this post and pass along this award to all of my blogging friends, my cross-pollinators.  You know who you are.  Your blogs and your comments have truly pollinated my life and helped me bloom, and for that I have immense gratitude.


  1. Dear Polly

    Happy happy days for today and forever...
    I hope that you get a great wash done and begin the next year with the scent and the feel of fresh laundry...

    enjoy your orange flower...

    Happy days

  2. My, Gosh, Polly, so many things to celebrate today: your birthday, your fiftieth blog, your award, your rebirth as a writer -- and more as I reread your post. Happy Birthday and bravo for everything.

    I had a shock when I saw the title of your blog because I recently posted one with sheets and clothes drying in the winter sun...

    I very much like your concept of 'pantstheism' and I agree with it. It is also wonderful to see you getting into Lent. It's such an exhilarating journey, isn't it?

    Thank you for your energizing thoughts. Blessings.

  3. Thank you ever so much, Delwyn!

    Blessings to you too, Claire. I saw your laundry picture just after I posted this and was blown away by the synchronicity of it. Especially when I read the title of the photo - the "Sunny Day" part even connects with the Sunshine Award.

  4. Yay for you, for your award, for your life, for your birthday and for this beautiful sharing post. Your words fall on eager ears and my ears and heart are rewarded!!

  5. Happy happies, my blogging friend! I'm so excited for you! Birthdays and awakenings and writing, oh my! What a lovely day to celebrate. My thoughts are with you.

  6. Happy Birthday!

    "God is both the maker and the wearer of the garment that is creation."

    You sure can turn a phrase. And I just got done watching a show about Abraham Lincoln, so that's saying something. "Pantstheism," eh? Now there's a unique way of looking at things. And, as usual with the things you write about, more true than it at first appears, and infinitely compelling to dwell upon. Your discussion of nakedness vs. clothing is particularly gripping (and not just because it deals with nakedness, either).

    I've heard it said that joy and abundance can be found in self-denial; nakedness is something to be embraced.

    But some have said that the clothes make the man (uh, person), or that "you are what you wear."

    Irrespective of the transformation you yourself may go through naked, other people's perceptions of you will undoubtedly change, perhaps even be hindered. Putting decorum aside, it would take a mind of uncanny clairvoyance to discern temperament and personality without threads upon which to base their judgment. Then again, it might also take more time. If it's true, as I've heard, that people act differently according to what clothes they're wearing, then it might take several successive "outfits" to gain a measure of someone's character. However, one might only have to observe a naked person once to gain insight into their personality.

    That being said, I think nakedness is overrated. If God is in the clothes, then clothes are probably an essential part of a person. To see someone confusion-free, without baggage or woes or burdens, is to see someone who isn't real. Isn't whole. Isn't complete. Our clothes aren't part of our bodies, sure, but as they take on our energy and scent, they are a part of us nonetheless, by proxy.

    Well done; another engaging discussion down. Congratulations on reclaiming your voice as a writer.

  7. Happy Birthday! Here's to the next 50 posts!

    Best wishes,


  8. Oh Polly, you wonderful girl! Happy, happy birthday!

    Happy 50th post.

    Happy (orange) award AND what Postie said. Ditto.

    It kills me that we don't live closer so I could have baked you a cake and brought over a present (something orange) and some nice chardonnay.

    But you know, as you drank the wine you might become embolden to tell me how much my cake sucks but that's okay- it's the thought that counts.

    Then I'd be a little hurt but throw a slight bit of cake, you know, in your hair.

    Bingo! Frosting made that stick pretty nicely didn't it?

    Of course, you aren't going to just sit there with cake in your hair. You're going to fight back.

    With all the noise, the kids would come and and demand, "What are you doing to OUR mother?!"

    And kick my booty back to Texas.

    Yeah, maybe it's better we don't live too close.


  9. Happiest of Happy Days I hope you had. It is a blessing to have you here with us! I am better for it, and so thankful!

    This is wonderful post, easy to read, and hopeful. Lots of smiles!!!!!

    Congratulations on your 50th post. How amazing is this?

    Congratulations on your award! It is beautiful! I am so glad you received this on your birthday!

    and I am so thankful to be a part of this extraordinary journey!

  10. Gah! I'm late with my congratulations, both on your birthday and on your 50th post. And the award. I'm so glad to be part of your community here. Blessings to you, and I love your pantstheism theology.

  11. SS - Thank you! I'm glad this brought a blessing to you.

    Kate - Thanks for sharing in my celebrations!

    Postie - First you compare me to Kennedy, now to Lincoln. Thanks! Maybe I should run for President. Oh wait - can't. I'm not an American citizen.

    All of what you say about clothing and nakedness gives me more food for thought on this subject. I believe I will be posting further about this. It's funny that you mention the phrase, "Clothes make the man." I was watching Joe Vs. The Volcano with one of my classes the other day, and there's an important scene in that movie where that phrase is used.

  12. Dan - Thank you! I'm certainly looking forward to the next 50.

    EC - Thank you! I would be happy for any cake you made. Just don't bring me orange chardonnay.

    Jennifer - I too am ever so thankful you're on this journey with me.

    Tess - Don't feel bad - I'm late on following up on these comments! Blessings to you too, and I'm glad you like my armchair theology. It amuses ME to no end, that's for sure. Although I don't know how God feels about it :)

  13. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, POLLI!! i'm running a little behind, but i'm certain it has nothing to do with old age :-) xoxox

  14. Hey Polly: You could be mayor of Taos. Or governor of New Mexico...if Arnie could be governor of California and Clint Eastwood mayor of Carmel, then I don't see why somebody like you (with brains, strength and perspective) couldn't make a go of it...

    Speaking of public office, how's that board position treating you?

  15. Many happiest returns of the day (I'm a bit late but very sincere). I love these ruminations so much!

    I believe very deeply that as within, so without, that working in either dimension brings wholeness to both. Put on nice clothing and make God more at home within, or sit in meditation and watch the weather outside calm down.

    I've always resisted the idea of "monkey mind." Back in the day before we had the luxury of sitting around meditating, having a consciousness that could jump from topic to topic and be aware of all kinds of different things at once, was part of how we survived.

    I meditate every day because I believe it is an evolutionary activity, but I deeply value my ability to jump around from this to that. It's original, survival consciousness without which I would not be here.

    Enjoy your clean clothes!!

  16. I love 'pantstheism' it's so descriptive, and it kind of feels right. I'll have to read the post a few more times before I fully digest it.

    I do hope you had a wonderful birthday. Congratulations on your 50th post and the lovely award.

    How old are your students, I'd have killed for a teacher like you when I was young?

  17. Lucy - Thanks! I'm running behind too; maybe it's just something in the stars.

    Postie - Thanks for the vote of confidence, but politics is not my game. Yuck. Working for non-profits is more my style. The board I'm on now is awesome - best team I've ever worked with. They're professional, honest, hard-working, and passionate. I couldn't ask for a better situation. Thanks for asking!

  18. Reya - Thank you! I agree with everything you say here. I too appreciate the agility and diversity of my mind. When I use the term Monkey Mind it's about the stories I tell myself, the judgments I get attached to that make me miserable and take me out of the reality of the moment.

    And I'm learning that you don't actually have to sit around meditating to deal with that, that it can be more of an on-the-go remedy that you get in the habit of applying. It's on the go where it's needed, anyway!

    Eryl - Thank you. I actually had a terrific birthday.

    My students are college freshmen and I also teach a mixed group of high school kids. They do seem to like me, and it's amazing to watch the light bulbs go on.

  19. Pish tush. You're always showing such unbelievably thoughtful and selfless interest in the stuff I'M doing. I feel like a cad that I didn't ask how your board work was going SOONER. What kind of projects are you working on?

  20. Happy (belated) birthday! I'm sorry I'm just now catching up with your last post...I was sort of hit and miss last week.

    Then tonight I thought, gee haven't seen one from Pollinatrix in a bit, did I miss it? and I was so rewarded, as always. I truly love your thoughtful, provoking posts.

    And today's has me considering the difference between pantheism and panentheism. And the beautiful analogy of clothing. I shall think of this as I drift of to sleep, when I believe I do my very best, creative thinking.

    And--last thought--I am with you in lockstep on the blogging community and place to find myself and others through writing. What a treasure to have this, after so many years bereft of a writing circle!

  21. Postie - We're writing grants and planning YouthFest, a new festival in Taos to occur in May.

    DG - Thank you for the birthday wishes and blog praise! I do my most creative thinking when I'm drifting to sleep, too. Sometimes I have to get back up and write stuff down.

    I've been hit and miss quite a bit lately, myself. I'd rather be blogging, but life has different plans for me lately.

  22. Glad you had a terrific birthday.

    I've done the odd bit of tutoring at the local university here and seeing those light bulbs go on always makes it feel worth the hours of prep.

    I'm just about to put Erin Brockovich on in the hope that a light bulb goes on in me, thanks for reminding me about it/her.

  23. I like tutoring even better than teaching; the lightbulb effect is much more likely to happen one-on-one. (Spellcheck is trying to tell me that both lightbulb and spellcheck are two words, but I don't care!)

    While you're at it, watch Sex, Lies, and Videotape, too, if you haven't already. It's Steven Soderbergh's first film, which was shot in Baton Rouge where he is from and where I lived for many years. The bar in that movie is where I met my ex-husband. It burned down a few years ago. Kind of like my marriage.

    But seriously, Sex, Lies, and Videotape is a very good small story with small heroes.



Related Posts with Thumbnails

Search This Blog