If I Could Put it in a Pill

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I am re-posting this just because I enjoyed writing it. Maybe you have read it before but this time you will read it with different eyes.

 

I admire my mom so much! She has bathed her kids and grandkids in a gentle shower of wisdom from the moment we were born. When I made a goal in my late 20’s to learn all the skills that my grandmother and great-grandmother had for health care, homemaking and survival, I didn’t quite realize how much of it my mother had already inserted into my heart and mind. You see, my mom is the world’s best teacher.

Moment by moment she taught me. How many times did she unwrap a bar of soap, bring to my attention the pleasant scent and then proceed to take my hand and walk down the lush paths of her memory? Perhaps she would share about my brother who was allergic to Ivory Soap, and then turn down the lane of soap making, including how to leach a passable lye from wood ashes and even how to prepare a stump or a chunk of wood to drip the lye water out. Here, memories were not just how-to facts, they were unhurried visits with the people who had gone on before us. I could see the crepe-like and calloused hands of my great grandmother scooping the soft gel soap from the gourd soap holder into the tub of hot water. I could see her swishing it counter clockwise to make suds and adding in the dishes, glasses first then the dirtier dishes after to be followed later by the cooking vessels. Did she shift about on arthritic legs? Was she gray already? Who were the children at this time? I could see those hands, smell the hot soapy water and hear the sound of a few fingers full of salt being scrubbed around in the cast iron skillet. This would remove anything stuck on before the skillet was rinsed and dried on the back of the wood fired cook stove. After it was thoroughly dry, a bit of lard would be whisked around with those same gnarled fingers. Perhaps a pot of chicory and coffee mixed would be set to cook on the last heat of the cook stove or a pan of water for washing hands and feet before bed. Then on the vine-sheltered porch of my mother’s memory I would settle into an imaginary straight chair leaned against the wall and listen to the after supper “visiting” until the house cooled enough for sleeping. All of this is tied to the scent of soap.

If only my mom could put it all in a pill! I would buy those pills if it took everything I own and I would give one to everyone I love as well as to every kindly stranger I met. I would give one to all the teachers in the schools and pastors behind the pulpits. I would offer this pill to the politicians and pray they would be wise enough to take one. There might

also be the occasional fool-with-potential whose coffee would get spiked unbeknownst to him.

The reality is that the pill doesn’t exist. All I can do is try to follow those old paths that my family has walked and try to connect them to the world that my children and grandchildren live in. Even when they seem too busy, too sophisticated, too prosperous or prideful, who knows what they will remember when they unwrap a bar of soap?

If I Could Put it in a Pill

scan0001

I am re-posting this just because I enjoyed writing it. Maybe you have read it before but this time you will read it with different eyes.

 

I admire my mom so much! She has bathed her kids and grandkids in a gentle shower of wisdom from the moment we were born. When I made a goal in my late 20’s to learn all the skills that my grandmother and great-grandmother had for health care, homemaking and survival, I didn’t quite realize how much of it my mother had already inserted into my heart and mind. You see, my mom is the world’s best teacher.

Moment by moment she taught me. How many times did she unwrap a bar of soap, bring to my attention the pleasant scent and then proceed to take my hand and walk down the lush paths of her memory? Perhaps she would share about my brother who was allergic to Ivory Soap, and then turn down the lane of soap making, including how to leach a passable lye from wood ashes and even how to prepare a stump or a chunk of wood to drip the lye water out. Here, memories were not just how-to facts, they were unhurried visits with the people who had gone on before us. I could see the crepe-like and calloused hands of my great grandmother scooping the soft gel soap from the gourd soap holder into the tub of hot water. I could see her swishing it counter clockwise to make suds and adding in the dishes, glasses first then the dirtier dishes after to be followed later by the cooking vessels. Did she shift about on arthritic legs? Was she gray already? Who were the children at this time? I could see those hands, smell the hot soapy water and hear the sound of a few fingers full of salt being scrubbed around in the cast iron skillet. This would remove anything stuck on before the skillet was rinsed and dried on the back of the wood fired cook stove. After it was thoroughly dry, a bit of lard would be whisked around with those same gnarled fingers. Perhaps a pot of chicory and coffee mixed would be set to cook on the last heat of the cook stove or a pan of water for washing hands and feet before bed. Then on the vine-sheltered porch of my mother’s memory I would settle into an imaginary straight chair leaned against the wall and listen to the after supper “visiting” until the house cooled enough for sleeping. All of this is tied to the scent of soap.

If only my mom could put it all in a pill! I would buy those pills if it took everything I own and I would give one to everyone I love as well as to every kindly stranger I met. I would give one to all the teachers in the schools and pastors behind the pulpits. I would offer this pill to the politicians and pray they would be wise enough to take one. There might
also be the occasional fool-with-potential whose coffee would get spiked unbeknownst to him.

The reality is that the pill doesn’t exist. All I can do is try to follow those old paths that my family has walked and try to connect them to the world that my children and grandchildren live in. Even when they seem too busy, too sophisticated, too prosperous or prideful, who knows what they will remember when they unwrap a bar of soap?

Springtime in the Rockies and in My Heart

Spring comes later here in the Northern American Rockies than in most other places. When others in the U.S. are well into the swing of summer weather and activities, we are still getting spotty snows and frequent frosty mornings. Our gardens are mostly growing on sunny window sills or in green houses. We are preparing soil in our flannel shirts and wearing gloves for more than one reason. We are set on the starting line just waiting for the pistol shot of frost free days and the brief race of short season vegetable varieties against a 100 day growing season. We can’t reliably plant anything here on our place before June first, though many years I plant seeds in the garden and in the windowsill at the same time just to see which one survives until after frost.

Like my garden, I have come through a difficult wintery time of the heart. Without assaulting you with details, I have been through a year or so of nearly total broken heartedness. Several people that I love with all my heart have dissappointed me and hurt me by their rejection of our Lord Jesus and his ways. I have fallen into the icy waters of guilt. “What if I had said this.” or “What if I had done more.” Answerless questions that grew like hoarfrost over my heart and mind. I have been less fruitful, with few sprouts penetrating the permafrost of my brokenness.

But then the warmth of my Savior began to penetrate the unproductive soil of my life. A little here and a little there, snowy patches began to melt and my world began to soften. Gradually the plowing of the word of God began to till places and encourage the dormant shoots of my gifts and callings to reappear. The soft showers of Christian fellowship and the love of my brothers and sisters in the Lord began to find fertile ground and coax out the the sprouts and tendrils of what God has called me to do.

Gradually, I have returned to areas of ministry that were neglected while I cried out to God in brokenness. Sweetly, as only my God can do, he has also added new opportunities and provided the energy to begin working on them. It seemed to be a long, cold, winter to me. I sometimes was concerned that it would be permanent and that I wouldn’t be fertile ground again, but God always knew that the frost free days would come. He had built into my life the elements that would bring them about. What a blessed God we have that hovers always near us whether we are in a season of visible growth, a time of harvest or in a season where things appear dormant under the snows of distress. I am so thankful that He has a reason for every season he permits in my life. I am grateful that chooses to bring the spring again.

Psalm 51:17

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.