The painter, Peter Brook (1927-2009) spent his life in Yorkshire. His parents were farmers, he became a school teacher but spent much of his time observing and painting the ordinary everyday scenes of life. Many of his painting are of the beautiful Pennine landscape, especially in winter. Most of his small painting also feature his dog! The painting above is titled Blowing in the Wind! These days we don’t often see washing blowing in the wind to dry. I recall my own childhood when the washing was out on the line leaving no room to kick a soccer ball, and if I dared, it would certainly not be appreciated if I marked what was out to dry! I remember fondly those moments of hurrying to bring the washing in as rain began to fall! Today, I turn from a Yorkshire artist to a Welsh poet. R.S. Thomas has a lighter side from his usual dark inner debate between faith and doubt. In the poem below he describes, as if it were a dance, two shirts blowing in the wind to dry. What memories do you have of “wash day” and hanging out laundry to dry, trying to beat the rain, and enjoying the fresh smell of towels dried in the wind and sunshine of a spring morning?
Two Shirts on a Line
They set to one another
then move silently
apart only to return
back to back. I am
fascinated by a dance
without music, by
a couple without faces
dancing away a January
their tears. There is no one
to put them on but
the wind that fits them
where it touches,
that, when about to be
asked for directions, vanishes
leaving them dangling
as though they had been hanged. R.S. Thomas
may your breath
stir within me and
might you cause the wind
of your Holy Spirit
to fill my sail.
Help me this day,
to see in the ordinary things
something of Your extraordinary wonder.
Help me to see in the leaves as they
fall from the trees something of the
miracle of the seasons.
Help me to see, in the people I pass,
in the friends who speak my name,
and in my family near and far, that they too
have the wind of God’s Spirit blowing upon
and within them.
Fill us all with the breath of your Spirit,
today and always. Amen.
One thought on “Blowing in the Wind!”
The sight of laundry drying in a summer’s breeze is one that I enjoy, We often drive through the deep rural areas of the state to see the Amish farms, and on wash days, we admire the orderly pinned collections of muted, solid colors of clothing, particularly pleasing and photogenic against the blue sky. I don’t know why ordinary tasks of labor can appear as art, but this seems the case. During my childhood my grandmothers hung only white items and dish towels in the sun, my aunts hung only overalls and dungarees. I have no idea where other things were dried, or maybe this is a flawed memory. My brother and I used to refer to the beds at our grandparents’ houses as envelopes, thinking the sheets were so stiff from sun-drying. Line drying is technically not allowed in my neighborhood, how ridiculus! Some states have “solar access” and “right to dry” laws, though this isn’t one of them.
I especially like the last line of the poem, and it feels a bit unfinished somehow even though the shirts’ dance comes to an end. As always, your prayer is lovely and reminds me that simply looking around will always bring something extraordinary into view. Thank you.