Friday, October 6, 2017

Handmade Dish Cloth

Briefly, through the corner of my eye, I saw the red tinge covering the horizon as the sun began to rise early this morning. The fog lay over the fields like a nicely folded blanket percolating from the lowlands. Hundreds of black birds sat on the branches intermingling with the colourful leaves as they sang an extra loud symphonically orchestrated song.  I stepped outside to take a breath of the morning’s freshness while I watched our dog get the newspaper. Mornings like this bring a wave of appreciation to God’s magnificent ingenuity.  All these wonderful gifts to experience so early in the morning set the stage making it a great start to the day.

                We cannot always stop and smell the fragrances of autumn for too long. Life brings with it, many jobs which need to be done. It was not long before I busied myself with my daily routine of feeding chickens, doing dishes and hanging a load of laundry out to dry. There is something about seeing the clothing blow in the breeze. Perhaps a nostalgic memory of my own childhood when my mother hung all her clothing and bed sheets out to dry.

Wiping off my countertop, I couldn’t help but notice the holes in my dish cloth which had been well used. How often I had also washed that cloth with my laundry and reused it again and again. They are very hardy those handmade dish cloths, these ones that my mother had knitted together with her loving hands. Maybe that is why I hesitated for so long to discard it. I remember in her later years as aging had made its changes to her body, much like that aging dish cloth. Her hands lost their flexibility, her eyes dimmed by macular degeneration which made it difficult for her to see the stitches on her needles. I remember her frustration she experienced making those cloths. They didn’t come out square. She took such pride in whatever she did to make sure it was done right. Smiling at my memories, I also realize the love she poured into ever knit and pearl.

I looked at the huge hole in the cloth and saw the unraveling of the wool. It was no longer a nice white cloth. It had been used so much it was a dingy gray. That morning it had wiped its last countertop. With some sentimental attachment I had to put that dish cloth to rest. It accomplished its grand purpose. It just plumb wore out. Much like that dish cloth, my Mother’s body just plumb wore out too and she died a couple years ago. Needless to say those cherished cloths she gave me have such sentimental value.  

After reluctantly discarding that old dish cloth, I went on with my day. Sometimes it is difficult to keep on track as my eyes seem to wander to something else I could do. If I rearrange all my potted flowers or change a picture on the wall, move some furniture or change a table cloth. Then one thing leads to another.

                As I was digging through my over flow of stored blankets and table cloths, two little pure white handmade dish cloths fell out from the bottom of my jam packed Chester drawer. My mother had knitted them together with her loving hands. They were not square, somewhat distorted in shape and probably two of the last ones she had made.

                Little things like this sneak up on us when we least expect them. The two cloths I held in my hand, took me back once again to those reflective memories of my mother. I asked myself, should I use them or put them back in amongst all the table cloths and blankets and leave them there and save them? Or Do I use them knowing full well that they will wear out and eventually also finish their purpose.

                Sometimes it is hard to completely let go of these earthly treasures which we hold so dear to our hearts. In letting go, we somehow think we are letting go of the person connected to those earthly treasures. The sentimental value I attach to these things, other people don’t have to them. Long after I am gone, one of my children may pull out those two dish cloths that are imperfect.  To them, the dish cloths might look like rags. So, I pause for one more moment in time and ask what my mother would suggest. My mother would probably say, “That is why I made them, for you to use.”

The Bible tells me the answer to my peril.

Matthew 6:19 – 20 ESV -  19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.