Sunday, August 14, 2011

Showers

The other day, BB (baby brother for those of you new to this blog) told me I'm the story-teller of our family.  That got me to thinking of being a town crier, who knows and shares all the news of the community.  I suppose, like with all vocations, there are associated strengths and weaknesses.  The balance, of course, is to keep from tipping from information into gossip. 

Anyway, I resonate with his assessment that I'm a story-teller.  And last night thought of one I've told more than once over the years since it happened, but perhaps not on this blog, or if so, not for a long time.  So if you've heard it from me, feel free to move along. 

Years ago, Beve and I, along with our closest friends (and our combined six children like little ducks in a row behind us) were the leadership team for a high school ministry.  And each summer we took that high school group, as large as 40 strong, to a small, mostly Tlinget village in SE Alaska.  Hoonah was where we became friends we often say.  Our children did such things as buy candy cigarettes and smoke them on the church steps while we led VBS inside, and Beve was a hit as a 'play-ah' in the daily basketball games (which led us to form a Hoops camp the second year.  We slept at a rather decrepit church that had a broken down kitchen and two bathrooms of sorts, but no showering facilities of any kind.  Not to worry, however, the high school was right up the street, and we were given keys to the locker rooms for the duration of our stay.

Our first morning in Hoonah, K and I roused our five young daughters (SK was only five years old that first summer) early to get our showers in before breakfast and the day took off at a wild pace.  It was a veritable parade of teenagers sleep-walking up the hill that morning, the morning-folk, like Beve, at the head of the pack, the night-owls, like JM and me, barely with it at the rear.  But into the shower rooms we trooped, where we discovered a rather large open stall with several shower heads.  K and I gritted our teeth, set our face in stone and helped our reluctant daughters undress.  Then we undressed, we who had borne those children and had the scars and bodies to show for it. 

But around us those lovely, young unblemished teenagers were, one at a time, going into the bathroom stalls and coming out in their swimming suits.  Then they stood in the showers, scrubbing away at those suits as if they'd been stamping on them in mud.  It took all the strength in my not-so-confident-soul to stand in front of them and wash my real, actual, dirty, sweaty body.  I could have put on my swimming suit, of course.  But my swimming suit wasn't dirty.  It was clear back in my suitcase, clean and unsullied.

It's our naked selves that get filthy.  Toss our clothes into the washer and they come out smelling fresh and clean.  But ourselves--our dirty, pudgy, droopy selves, blushing in the shame of it all--must be washed, deep down where we sweat, exercise, excrete, expel most. Clean to the bone.  Washed.

In blood as well. It is not our swimming suits, neutral articles with no soul, only function, that need the blood of Christ.  It is not what we put on ourselves--our professions, our hobbies and roles, even most of our dreams and desires (though some are as dark and dirty as the dirties part of us)--that must alone be cleaned, it is ourselves. 

Wash us deeply.  Even in our saggy flesh.  What their suits covered is exactly what lies beneath everyone's clothes.  And what we each need clean. Don't let us hide behind our clothes, Lord. Help us--me!--strip naked to the core, then shower us in the clean, saving blood of Jesus Christ.

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