Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Preacher’s Corner
By Rev. Dr. Milton Winter

How do I feel? Well, how clean is my house?

This is Bible School season, and I was startled when I phoned the office of a ministerial colleague, only to have the secretary tell me he was involved with Bible School drama, and couldn’t come to the phone. “He’s portraying Jesus,” she confided.

What a “dangerous” thing for a minister to do!

Small children have enough trouble keeping the identity straight. I must have been six before I realized our old minister was not God. And now that full beards are the fashion for many clergy, I cannot begin to imagine what the little ones are thinking.

We ministers had better watch our behavior!

This has been one of those weeks for house cleaning.

The urge arises in me only sporadically, and then only when I am upset. In fact, you can assess my mental state by how clean my house is!

It all began in childhood. For when they were upset or laden with grief, my mother and my grandmother would go on great binges of house-cleaning.

Grandmother always kept our house neat as a pin (she vacuumed every day and the beds were made almost before you could get out of them), but when she had something on her mind, the pictures came down from the wall to be dusted on the backs, the bookcases were pulled out to be vacuumed behind, and the rugs were rolled up and carried outside to be hung on the clothes line and beaten. It relieved a great deal of pent-up emotion.

When Mama and Grandmother were in such moods, it was best to cooperate or get out of the way. Daddy would put on a kitchen apron and man the vacuum cleaner.

I am sure that in those days our carpets wore out, not from use, but from the powerful suction of that cast-iron Hoover that passed over them every day.

Then there was the silver polishing. One lady told me this week that, having faced a great loss, she was “going to polish all the silver.” When she noticed the twinkle of remembrance in my eye, she said, “Well, it gives us something to do!”

Indeed. So I have cleaned every obvious surface, shampooed the rugs, waxed the floor, and worked in the yard. The dogs are creeping around in terror that they will be power-washed just like the car in the garage!

All the laundry is done and folded, the papers on my desk are sorted, but still I feel the grief for good friends in their loss. It is just how I cope with the situation, because it is hard to find the words.

Some day I hope to have a good, long talk with our Lord about why people have to suffer and die.

I have the feeling there is a good deal of house cleaning, silver polishing, as well as baking and flower arranging going on in our town just now. It is just the way that people who do not have all the answers work out their frustrations and express their love.

“Now, we see through a glass darkly,” said the apostle Paul. But all I know how to do is “shine it up” as much as I can.

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