Monday, December 02, 2013

On the troll...

I missed two doses of erythromycin and ended up with writhing innards for two days.  I am still really uncomfortable and swollen, but much, much, much better.  When I stick to a strict six-hour schedule with the medication, it really has significantly changed my innards misery.  But missing doses because I forget to take them (even with the now double alarms) wreaks havoc on that fragile balance.

I have also been struggling with change and loss and me.  Silly, eh, that the whole no-longer-a-Dr-Pepper-person bothers me somewhere in the mix of all my thoughts and feelings?  So, I went on the troll for something to organize/reduce/recycle.  I ended up in the dining room.

This is my pile of donations for the homeless re-homing non-profit.  One set of 4 placemats, one set of eight, and one set of 8 with 12 matching napkins.  Holiday dish towels, a hand towel, and a bread basket liner are also included.  Clearly, I had yet to let go of my grandmother's pots.  And I tossed in a set of 16 party napkins and a bed caddy that fits between the mattress and box springs and hangs down the side of the bed.  [Why the latter was in with the dining room linens is beyond me.]

While I have a set of napkins, now, that do not clash so terribly with the chairs, I still only have 4 placemats for a table that sits 6.  I thought about keeping the natural linen placemats for just that reason, but they clash and the odds of my having 5 visitors is mighty, mighty slim.  My mother has the other 4 placemats that match the ones I have.  I am campaigning for her to donate them to a certain person living in Fort Wayne.  They are these straw ones from when I was a wee little one.

I am posting a photo below, even though the flash utterly changed the color of the napkins.  You will just have to pretend that they and the small runner in the middle of the table are extremely close in color, which they are ... unless photographed at night with a flash.

[I washed more of the napkins in my last Laundry Day and was still tickled pink that all I had to do was shake them out, straighten them as I hung them on a rack, and then fold them and put them away.  No-ironing-needed napkins are wonderful!!!!]

Those placemats have been around as long as I have ... maybe longer.  At some point, she gave me half.  Of the placemats I had, these are the ones that worked best.  I wouldn't mind a set of brown ones that could blend the chairs in better, but not spending money is better than buying placemats for visitors when, in reality, you are an introverted wall-flower hermit.

Anyway, I was ruthless in reducing the table/kitchen linens because I do not need them and am no longer really using them.  I did keep this really, really cool vintage placemat set of 4 cork-backed placemats and 4 matching coaster.  That is a prime example of something I have savored that I would rather find someone who would cherish the coolness of it than simply give it away.  But it is good to let go of all of those placemats when I am not using them and will not be using them.

I will admit ... I also kept a set of 8 butterfly napkin rings.  I put them in the donation bag and took them back out.  Once.  Twice.  Five times, actually.  I think they are bloody cool, but I do not know if any of my friends might like them as much as I do.  I used to have oodles of napkin rings, but they have all somehow disappeared in the downsizing process.  I am not sure if I have ever really used napkin rings.  I believe the thought of them is actually more appealing than the use of them.

Okay, I just put butterfly napkin rings back into the bag.  What does a hermit do with napkin rings??  For good measure, I went ahead and also added the light, lacy straw placemats I had left in the drawer as a just-in-case contingency.  What, like the ones I am using would break?  SIGH.

Back when I was a young thing, heading out onto the mission field, I read every missionary biography I could find.  Two stuck in my mind:  the work of Hudson Taylor and that of Amy Carmichael.  What I liked about Hudson Taylor was that every year he would go through everything he owned.  If he had not used it in the past year, he gave it away.  He also was very, very circumspect about not confusing culture and society with the Gospel.  What I found fascinating about Amy Carmichael was that she had a policy of never telling others of her prayers requests.  She merely petitioned God to provide.  And he did.

If ever you wish an enlightening time, read From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya.  It is a biographical history of missions.  We certainly are far better at westernizing others, at being moral police, than we are at preaching Christ alone.

I've mentioned before that I did some graduate work on Edward O Guerrant, a fascinating man who was a doctor, a lawyer, a soldier, and a missionary.  God having spared him in the Civil War, Guerrant dedicated the rest of his life to establishing a mission in Appalachia.  In his mission work, he brought education and healthcare in his wake, but he would sternly instruct the seminary students he cajoled into serving as missionaries that their job was to bring Christ crucified.  Period.  They were to live as those in Appalachia, wearing like clothing and eating what was served them.  Guerrant was an admirer of Hudson Taylor strove to emulate his mission work in China in the backwoods of America.

If you are my age, you might have read Catherine Marshall's Christy, or seen the television series.  Her mother listened to one of Guarrant's lectures on the mission and walked away from her pampered life in North Carolina to live in abject poverty and teach in Appalachia.  In some ways, I think what the current BBC series Call the Midwife does is similar:  To show the contrast between the haves and have nots and to understand that serving the have nots is not about changing them or fixing them or making their lives or appearance more palatable to you, but meeting those souls in their homes, at their tables, sitting by their side.  No matter the filth.  No matter the poverty.  No matter the cultural and societal differences.  It is the work of mercy that matters most.  Be it healthcare, education, or spiritual care.

Sometimes, when I think of what I have accumulated since leaving home at 18, I am staggered!  I am not really an acquisitive person and tend to hang onto things and use them far longer than most would, because I am not really a disposable person.  But, oh my, what I have donated is sobering.  I do think a lot about all of the household goods I have brought to The Mustard Seed over the past year.  Things I take for granted.  Things I had idle duplicates. Things I could use, but someone else could use even more.  I do know from my work in affordable housing that getting homeless individuals and families into permanent housing is only a first step.  It is quite expensive to set up a home.  And it is not like Americans still hold shivarees for newlyweds, much less for those embarking on a new life.

Oh, Myrtle, you really should gird your loins (and your heart) and get to donating your work clothes to Dress for Success.  

Life really does go on ... despite change, despite illness, despite loss.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

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