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Who is this old woman, her back to us? Her mussed white hair gathered at the nape of her neck? Her plaid jacket dwarfing her sloping shoulders? Her ample pelvis, stretched at having birthed children? Her strong soiled feet? Her right knee cushioned by one of her down-at-the heels flats?

Where is she? Some industrialized city? Some Third World country? Our Own?

Why her recourse to underground murky waters?

She stoops over something–perhaps her washing. One item, already wrung out, sits in the pink basin to her left. Perhaps the lavender box contains soap powder. It is empty. Yet, there she is, on her knees, alone, her hands working on something in front of her. Hardship appear to be her familiar; it just is.

This story-scene, accessed from Photo Pin, jars my sensibilities. Should my circumstances change, will I humbly accept my lot?

I often wonder.

“I’ve also been cleaning houses for twenty-five years. Getting them ready for realtors. Even sprucing them up for estate sales,” says a tall hefty woman, her short brunette hair pulled back into a ponytail. “And I also paint,” she adds, while shifting her weight onto her other foot and holding a bucket filled with bottles of vinegar and distilled water, sponges, squeegees, and clean cloths.

Because eleven years of grime had besmirched the windows of my bungalow, I decided to have them washed. And on the morning of dribbling rain, likened to the incontinence of an embarrassed dowager, my new friend showed up, her quiet smile assuring me of her expertise. Immediately, she set to work on the living room windows while I returned to my word processor.

Time passed. On my way to the kitchen I noted the sparkle of the “forest pansy” redbud tree through my bedroom window. And so, for the rest of the morning, my windows began to look out upon the crystalline wet world I had only experienced during walks. Within my bungalow I could now enjoy the true colors of the outdoors.

I had been helped.

Its deeper lesson soon emerged: the surrender to Creator God who alone has power to wash clean my stuff (the grime) in order to relish the true colors of my Senior years seasoned with daily challenges. Such appreciation emboldens spirit and readies it for its transition.


Week-long intermittent rains from Tropical Storm Bill left a damp footprint upon the St. Louis Metro area. Winds lashed trees, pounded roofs, gentled gardens. With the return of sunshine neighborhoods appeared fresh, like the first morning of creation.

On that same morning, as well, another washing occurred, the baptism of eleven-week-old-David, wearing a lace trimmed gown purchased by his grandparents during a 1955 stop in Ireland. More waters trickled over the infant’s forehead, together with the sacred words proclaimed by the deacon. A hush stirred the witnesses. Then it was done.

A centuries-old ritual, enacted within biblical stories of great waters depicted in creation, the deluge, the Red Sea, the Jordan River, still speaks of our loving God’s desire to refresh, to restore. We’ve only to listen …




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