Listen To Article
A few months ago, when we were still gathering for worship, we sat in church celebrating our granddaughter Annie’s baptism. The priest poured water generously over her little head.
He spoke. ”Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
As I listened to his talk of the washing away of sins, my mind wandered.
While growing up on the farm, I knew Monday was wash day. When we remodeled our house, we repurposed our former kitchen as a “utility room,” and one corner housed the wringer washing machine.
Washing took most of the morning. Mom started with whites, moved on to colors, then towels, and finally my dad’s dirty, smelly overalls. Most of the time, while Mom ran the washing machine, I played outdoors waiting for my time to help.
When Mom came out with a load for the clothesline, I stood on a stool and helped hang up the clothes. Mom had taught me just where to put the pins on the seams of shirts and the ends of towels. I loved the clean, fresh smell of wet shirts.
The part I liked best about washday, however, came after the overalls. All week the rough concrete sidewalk running from the front of our house to the driveway gathered bits of manure from Dad’s boots, mud from my play boots and bits of grass and garbage from Trixie, our rat terrier’s wandering paws. By wash day, it was filthy. And since Mom believed in “Dutch clean,” Monday’s wash day schedule included the sidewalk.
Instead of just draining the water, Mom dipped her bucket into the washing machine tub and brought it to the sidewalk. I waited outside with a broom. Warm summer days were the best. I could go barefoot! Mom came out with a bucket from that last wash and I stood on the sidewalk as she poured it over my feet. The suds splashed around over my toes and washed away all that mud and grime on the sidewalk. On cool days I stood in my play boots.
My job came next: I grabbed the broom and scrubbed until the next bucket came. Then I scrubbed again. We kept this up until the sidewalk was clean. At the end, Mom threw clean water on my feet.
I loved scrubbing the sidewalk, and for, just a bit, the sidewalk shone. Unfortunately, by coffeetime, Dad had tracked mud on the clean concrete and Trixie had left all sorts of tracks from mysterious places. But I knew that sidewalk had been clean for a little while and so had my feet.
A gentle murmur of laughter brought me back to Annie’s baptism. I focused just in time to see her reach for the priest’s glasses. I can easily imagine sweet Annie washed more dazzling than snow and learning to walk in the “newness of life.”
I know, however, that I will not be sweet consistently. More “dazzling than snow” doesn’t seem to describe me. Like the dirty concrete of our old sidewalk, I have bumps and ridges that collect muddy footprints, grass, and debris from all over the yard of my life. I need that scrub down with soapy water. Even though I have no chance of staying clean and pure, I need weekly scrubs and sudsy splashes.
After each renewal, I am still bumpy concrete. I say a morning prayer and ask God for a clean heart. Before noon, debris is already collecting in my bumps and ridges. No matter. I will be washed clean again. Washday is my gift from God.