Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Ironing as a spritual discipline

I enjoy ironing. 

I conserve electricity by drying my clothes on a rack which is stationed in the spare bedroom. 

Would to God that I could hang them out to dry on a decent clothes line, but our prissy “Condo Association Rules” forbid such flagrant displays of laundry.

So my shirts and pants need to be ironed after they have dried out, and that’s just as well, because I enjoy ironing.

In the “olden days”  1976-80 I would even iron my undershirts/vests, and underpants/shorts.  Believe it or not (and please believe it), in those days I also ironed sheets.  Indeed I like ironing!

My enjoyment of ironing is most likely rooted in two places.

First:  as a parish Pastor I dealt with beginnings (baptisms); middles (weddings); and endings (funerals).   So I ministered with “bits” of human lives, but never with the whole.  When I iron I am able to begin, continue, and end an activity. Ironing is a “whole” activity.

Second:  I am (to my embarrassment), something of a perfectionist.   The beauty of a shirt well-ironed is a safe way of expressing this perfectionism.

The only grandparent I ever knew, (Nanny Povey),  never owned an electric iron.  Instead she had two flat irons which she would heat on the burner of her gas stove.  She would use one, whilst the other was getting “hotted”  over the open flame.  Nanny would have a bowl of cold water from which she sprinkled droplets over the item which she was ironing.   I thought that she was so “old fashioned”!

Mum had an electric iron.  Its technology was a step ahead of Nanny’s flat irons, but the heat controls were crude  (scorching was almost inevitable), and steam irons had yet to be invented.

Modern irons have “teflon” faces, and steam/spray faculties.  They are much more user-friendly than the irons which my grand mother and mother used, even though the intrinsic technology is little changed.  What has changed is the variety of fabrics which may or may not require the use of an iron.

I like ironing.  It satisfies my desire to be at tasks which have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  It’s a safe outlet for my perfectionism.

It is also speaks to me of wonderful cooperation in a marriage.  For you see, many years ago I was in England, staying with my youngest brother Martyn and his wife Wendy.  We were about to “go out” for dinner.  Wendy needed to apply her make-up, and she also needed to press her dress  (we were running late).  Brother Martyn spoke. He said “Wen, you take care of your make-up and I’ll iron your dress”.  And that she and he did.  I watched my brother as he ironed his wife’s dress.

It was a perfect resolution of our time problem.   It was a solution which would never have occurred to our Dad (God rest his soul)!

I often remember this as I set about my own ironing.

1 comment:

  1. Smile, just got in from walking Purdy. Some " ASSHOLE took out my drivers mirror. At least your memory brought a smile to my face. M