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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Our Clothesline

Photo Credit:  Kevin_P from
The countdown is officially on with literally one handful of summer days left for the children in this household.  In our grand effort to squeeze out a few more drops of fun, we’ve managed to fit in some swimming and fishing at one of our very favorite spots…Port O’Connor, Texas.

One day last week, after the girls swam and my son hooked a nice redfish, I draped their drippy clothes out on the line.  My parents hung a clothesline between their bay house and a pecan tree and it’s perfect for towels, swimsuits, and a lucky fishing shirt or two.

There’s always a nice breeze by the water (a humid one, but a breeze nonetheless), so I sat down for a moment to soak it all in.  As I watched the clothes sway back and forth, I got lost in remembering a poem I had recently read:

A clothesline was a news forecast to neighbors passing by,
There were no secrets you could keep when clothes were hung to dry.
It also was a friendly link for neighbors always knew,
If company had stopped on by to spend a night or two.
For then you’d see the “fancy sheets” and towels upon the line,
You’d see the “company table cloths” with intricate design.
The line announced a baby’s birth to folks who lived inside,
As brand-new infant clothes were hung so carefully with pride.
The ages of the children could so readily be known,
By watching how the sizes changed you’d know how much they’d grown.
It also told when illness struck as extra sheets were hung,
Then nightclothes and a bathrobe too haphazardly were strung.
It said, “Gone on vacation now” when lines hung limp and bare,
It told, “We’re back” when full lines sagged with not an inch to spare.
New folks in town were scorned upon if wash was dingy gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows and looked the other way.
But clotheslines now are of the past for dryers make work less,
Now what goes on inside a home is anybody’s guess.
I really miss that way of life- it was a friendly sign,
When neighbors knew each other best by what hung on the line.
~Author Unknown

A simple clothesline says so much, doesn’t it?  Of course, these days we have facebook, twitter, and pinterest and we know EXACTLY what folks are doing…and it’s NOT laundry!  Ha ha ha!  Only kidding, only kidding!

I also ran across another short clothesline poem by Sylvia Spencer and part of it goes like this:
It gets very heavy when it starts to rain, this is the time it feels the strain.
With the weight of the water upon its back, it sure feels heavy and ready to crack.
The sun comes out just in time, to save the life of the poor clothesline.

I’m not certain of the poet’s intent, but I read a little deeper into this slice of her poem.  Can’t we be a little like that clothesline as we take on more and more of life’s rain?  We saturate ourselves in droplets of worry, trickles of stress, and drips of anxiety each and every day.  After awhile, our burdens are too heavy to bear.  Even the strongest of clothespins cannot withstand the pull.  However, if we’d just let the “Son” in, the weight would become amazingly lighter as He absorbs life’s rain.  As the sun can save the life of a poor clothesline, I’m certain that the Son can save us too.

While we’re on the subject, what types of things might drench our spirits?  For those of us who worry for the sake of worrying, there are many things that soak our lines – too many to list really.   Luckily, there is “The Worrywart’s Prayer Book” by Allia Zobel Nolan that we can turn to.  I recently shared a few of Nolan’s words with a good friend of mine.  Here goes:

“TODAY is the tomorrow that you worried about and…all is well.”  (Gotta love that!)

“Hair graying?  Chin sagging?  Wrinkles around the eyes?  Face it, for most people, losing our looks is no ride in the park.  But, for worrywarts, it’s as though our one and only friend is leaving for the coast, and we’re trying every trick in the book to make her stay.”

“Oh my goodness, we fret, our foreheads look like tire treads.  And oh my gosh, we moan, our skin is drier than an empty canteen.  We’re sagging here and puffing out there.  We’re jiggling here and drooping down there.  Our heads are balding while our upper lips can grow enough hair for a small wig.” (Please be laughing as hard as I am over here!)

“And those mirrors that used to be friends?  Well, they’ve turned on us.  And no matter how many times we check ourselves out at the bathroom sink or in the reflections of store windows, it’s always the same:  we don’t recognize the person we see.  It’s enough to make us call 911.”

“‘A stranger’s invaded my body,’ we’ll report.  ‘And I don’t know what she’s done with me.’  No matter what we do, inevitably, earthly beauty fades.  And fretting about trying to stop it is as futile as trying to stop a bud from turning into a leaf, or day turning into night.”

“We’d be better off focusing on what we think the purpose of this stage of our lives is all about.  God is trying to remind us that the things of the flesh are transient, and we’d better get our spiritual affairs in order.”

“After all, our purpose here is not to win eternal beauty, but eternal life.  The Lord is interested in our soul, so let’s concentrate all of our efforts on making it as desirable as possible.  Let’s put on the creams of forgiveness to make it soft and subtle, the make-up of love to cover our rough spots, and a radiant garment of faith to make us beautiful in His sight.”  (Ooooh – so good!)

This last little story is about flooding our time with worries of yesterday.  I thought it was worth sharing as well…

“If a stranger tried to rob us of our todays by forcing us to think about yesterday, we’d probably put up a big fight.  Yet when the stranger turns out to be us, we wallow in the past wantonly and we seldom try to stop ourselves.”

“The past is something we cannot change.  It’s kaput, over, done with, finito.  The smart way of dealing with it is to accept it, learn from it, then drop it like a hot shot.  Otherwise, it can hold us captive for hours or even days, as our thoughts pull up a chair with worry, guilt, regret, and their sisters, ‘I should have done this’ and ‘I should have done that.’  Then, they have a grand ole time gabbing about what might have been.”

“While this party continues long after we can gain any lesson from it, we lose out.  All the good things God has planned for us in the present slip by unnoticed, without so much as a how-do-you-do.”

“Worrying about the past is not only a time-waster, but it’s also like questioning God’s plan for us.”  (Who am I to question His Plan for me?  Certainly He can see down the road so much farther…)

So, to wrap it up, let’s not drag our clothesline down with things soaked in all that is life-draining.  Life’s rain can be life-giving, but only if we invite the sun, um, Son, to do His part, too!

1 comment:

  1. What great reflections.....thanks for the reminder to focus on eternal life instead of eternal beauty.....