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She hiked herself upon the seat of the ladder-back chair and grabbed a mound of pink clay from the tub on my dining room table. Her head bowed, her red hair swishing the sides of her round cheeks, she set to work. Small hands kneaded the clay, stubborn under her touch. She worked harder. Her freckled nose twitched as she rolled it flat on the table, one side, then the other. She hunched back in her chair and inspected the results, then rolled it out again.

Finally satisfied, her narrow fingers fashioned the flattened piece into what appeared to be a container. Her work continued. Again, she reached into the tub and pulled out an orange piece. After having smoothed it, she shaped it into a circle, a process she repeated with lavender, blue, and yellow clay. Next came narrow green strips of clay she rolled into tubes; upon them she mounted the circles.

“I need a toothpick,” she said to her mother and grandmother, looking on and smiling. One emerged from the tub. With deft fingers the young artist inscribed her message, I love you, from Mary, then offered me her creation: the pink vase with summery flowers.

Such was the fruit of Mary’s industry, my six-year-old great-granddaughter who was visiting from her Minneapolis home.

Her love offering reminded me of a striking parallel found in the prophet Isaiah: “You are our Father; we are the clay, You our potter, we are all the work of Your hands.”

May we be willing to participate in this daily kneading. It’s about letting go of the kinks in our instincts and thriving.

 

 

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It was a drenchy morning. Up the front walk, she lugged four bags of groceries for her eighty-four-year old customer, homebound with erratic blood pressure. The door opened slowly, then her friend dropped from view. Something was wrong, so unlike the cheerful greetings she had offered her for two years.

“Doris? Are you all right?” She pushed open the door the rest of the way and found her in her housecoat and slippers, gasping, then gripping the sofa as she flopped upon it. Her hollowed eyes seemed to careen wildly like a wheat field torn by a twister. She needed help—fast. “I’ve got to call 911, Doris. Do let me do that. You know we’re friends.” Because Doris’s relatives were too busy to tend to her needs, she depended upon Gateway Delivered Goods for her groceries.

The familiar voice roused her sufficiently to respond: “No—Don’t do that—I don’t wanna to go—Not there.” She moaned, turned on her side, hugging her spindly arms.

“But I must. This is no good.” She had been aware that her customer’s doctor was playing peck-and-find with her medications, and that probably she could receive better care from a cardiologist.

Within minutes, paramedics informed the nearly unconscious Doris that her blood pressure was 74/45, that she needed IV fluids. She nodded, a smile flickering the corners of her narrow mouth, as hefty arms lifted her upon the gurney for the ride to the hospital.

Doris’s friend, Ashley, stayed with her until she was established in a room, then located a granddaughter to take it from there.

Should you wish to contact Ashley for her services with Gateway Delivered Goods in St. Louis, Missouri, call 855-331-8880. She cares, deeply … I know …

 

 

 

 

Snip—Snip—Smidgens of hair tickle my cheek, then splay upon the cape snapped around my neck. A glimpse into the oval mirror above the styling table catches the sinewy forearms of my hairdresser as he pauses before gripping the scissors and resumes cutting my bangs. Chatter and funky music pump up the busyness in his salon.

Again, I look into the mirror. Puffiness beneath my brown eyes and white-hair flecking my temples reveal my aging. It wasn’t always like this. A much younger face looked back at me when I had first sat in his styling hair. That was thirty-five years ago.

The first chair was in the Casual Coiffe in St. Louis, Missouri, a salon owned by his uncle. Not only was I surprised by his precision haircut, but also his kindness drew me to return every four months.

Over the years, pieces of his story emerged: an avid reader; working with his uncle and managing a fourplex in the Tower Grove area; his marriage and helping to birth two sons, parent, then empower them to be on their own; his first salon, with two subsequent changes in venues. Care lines in his clean-shaven face deepened as he styled hair and later cared for the needs of his infirm uncle, even his death and the disposal of his cremains in Ohio. Annual family vacations over the years to Mexican beaches sparked even more stories.

However, styling hair eventually became an occupational hazard that required several shoulder surgeries followed by painful convalescences. Once healed, he was back at work.

Helping his patrons, through the artistry of his hands, recalls a saying of Jesus: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23.

His name is Rob, of Rob and Company Salon in St. Louis, Missouri.

 

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