“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven, therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matt. 18: 1-5

Jay and I had the privilege of spending a week on the island of Iona, Scotland. It was a pilgrimage of my heart to be in this holy place where St Columba brought Christianity to Scotland in 563. Celtic Christianity has as its distinctive being grounded in the love of God as envisioned by the disciple John, who laid his head on the chest of Jesus at the last supper. He could hear the heartbeat of God. And that heart beats for love. The teacher for the week was an extremely brilliant man – an articulate man, well educated, a gifted scholar and writer. He radiated the compassion and kindness of Jesus. I was drawn to him and to his vision for Western Christianity.

After leaving Iona, we were in London. We stayed at an Air B&B. Around the corner was a Laundromat. We needed to wash clothes. There was a woman there who looked to be close to 80. She was spry and spunky. As we talked, she shared that she had spent her working life in a Laundromat, helping customers, answering questions, doing laundry for people to pick up later. She lived in the area, and she knew many of those who came to do their laundry. She was up on the local gossip, she attended the increased traffic in the area, finding our there had been an accident and traffic was diverted. An American woman came in with a handful of coins asking which do I need. Another woman needed to know how the machines work. Each request was met with grace and kindness. I was there about an hour. As I was folding our warm clothes, she was doing similar tasks for others and a wave of experiencing the sacredness of the ordinary washed over me. God was so present in that Laundromat! I was with women, doing an everyday task that was filled with God’s joy and delight in us.

Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Perhaps it’s the person loving others in the Laundromat!

Carol Swanson