Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dazzling, redeeming whiteness

It's been an exciting week in Lake Woebegon . . .

What it's been is a long pre-Christmas weekend, now melting into Christmas itself at my house. A recap? It's not very exciting, even to me. Saturday I shopped, especially in the bookstore. Bookstores inspire me to give books. But I give them knowing that books I choose may very well fail to bring delight. My expectations exceed how much people actually love the books I give. I know this, so I bought a book for myself. And that one comes with expectations too: thinking about hunkering down under the covers on a cold January night with a bought-and-paid-for book of my own. That was the high point of my Saturday. Unless you count clearing the scummy hair clog out of the bathroom drain at eleven o'clock at night. You have to do these things on an impulse. That what it takes to overcome revulsion. And the part I enjoyed was not the clearing, but the having cleared. A much different thing.

Sunday I scrubbed the mold out of the dishwasher. I was in the kitchen baking Snickerdoodles and I needed something else to do, preferably something aggressive, because I was stewing about an unfortunate conversation earlier in the day. And, how was I going to clean up from the cookie baking if I couldn't bear to put dishes on the moldy dishwasher racks? You can stew for a long time while scrubbing dishwasher racks. Even if you're not mad when you start, you will be when you finish. But I followed up the scrubbing by running the empty dishwasher through a cleaning cycle with a cup of bleach in the top rack. Later I opened the door to dazzling redeeming whiteness and the clean, clean smell of chlorine.

I have made up my mind in these Christmas days to at least be a blessing to others. Looking at people and smiling intentionally is part of this. Maybe other people do this all the time and I'm finally catching on.

I made Lebkuchen with my grandmother's recipe this afternoon, because that's a family thing and it's a few years since we've had some. I made half the quantity her original recipe calls for and it still filled three cookie tins. It is sweetened with honey as well as sugar and molasses, and it does taste like it gives life. Someone ate honey and locusts in the Bible--who was it? John the Baptist? Jesus? It's a desert thing.

In the middle of that cookie-baking I figured out why the dishwasher gets moldy. I opened it during the dry cycle and touched the heating element in the bottom. I expected to pull my finger away quickly, with a burn. But there was not burn, no heat in the dry cycle, which you'd think I'd have realized long ago, given that I always need a dish towel when I unload the thing.

Singing and choir-directing tonight meant lots of running around. The steps wear me out, but the concentration is what's really tiring. There was no time to think or listen during this worship service. Just keep focusing on what's next. But at the end of the service I looked up from my music to see candles lit all over church. I gasped. It was beautiful. Dazzling, redeeming, light.

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