Ironing out the wrinkles
I know it’s old fashioned, but I iron. That’s not nearly as old fashioned as the linen napkins I just finished ironing. The Thanksgiving napkins. We’ll probably use them for Christmas, too. They’re special occasion napkins.
I realized as I was ironing that I love those linen napkins. They’re each monogrammed with a script “R” in one corner because they belonged to my paternal grandmother before they came to be mine. I couldn’t see this until I ironed them. And as I ironed I wondered about where these linens had been, who had used them before, on what family occasions, whose lips had been wiped on this very fabric? (Okay – the last is going a bit too far.) But there was history here in my hands. At first, stiff and crinkled and then supple and smoothed. It became important then to fold them with the “R” showing.
This became a devotional moment for me. The connection with my ancestors, yes, but also the smoothing. The act of seeing my effort, small though it was, take something uninviting and turn it into something welcomed. And isn’t it like God in these moments to share a little secret with us? Provide a little illumination that adds depth and meaning and value.
Those wrinkles, the product of washing and letting air dry, reminded me so of the messiness of my mind. (Now it occurs to me they are actually a bit like the convoluted gray matter itself – ah, the anatomist in me still lives!) How chaotic it is on the inside, firing one idea and then another, until they are so entangled that I can’t hope to capture them all. But here I was, taking time to do something that could wait, that could even go without doing, and it became a metaphor for the process that untangles and smooths.
I know from experience that if I wait just a bit and go about my chores and activities which don’t require a lot of figuring out, the firecrackers of thoughts will settle into their places, each connecting with the others into one big thought meant for the moment. Perhaps the whole day.
Key, for me, is clearing away the distracting chaos on the outside – which so temptingly calls to the chaos on the inside, “Come play. Come play. We will have fun.” – to honor the message in the moment. And perhaps to write it or share it. That’s fun.
Then I can go out and play.