by Kristen

The washing machine hummed to life and I headed back to the family room to play with my nephew. But he didn’t want to play.

He is an inquisitive, energetic, on-the-go nineteen-month old: he wanted to see what was making the unfamiliar sound. I thought that once he saw the towels tumbling through the wash cycle he would be done with the laundry, but I was wrong.

I sat on the wood floor; he sat on my lap, leaning into me. His right hand rested on mine. His left hand clutched my shirt.

For ten minutes the two of us stared into a front-loading washing machine. For ten minutes we watched brightly colored towels spin clockwise, then stop and rest for eight seconds, then spin counter-clockwise, then stop and rest for eight seconds—a rhythm interrupted only by the addition of more water or soap. We watched and we watched and we watched. For ten whole minutes we were still.

It’s been a long time since I sat still for ten minutes. It’s been a long time since I contemplated wonder. It’s been a long time since I slowed to observe a process I assume I understand and take for granted. It’s been a long time since I gave my full attention to one action. It’s been a long time since I was still.

In a day filled with family and friends and celebration, I never imagined the best ten minutes would be the ones settling into the stillness of a spin cycle.


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