Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Time to Iron

I spent some time ironing this morning. I used to keep a basket of ironing. It was something I learned from my mother. My mother had no “profession” but would earn money by taking care of other people’s children and doing ironing. I tried the ironing back when I was still a high school dropout. As I recall, the rate of pay was “per piece.” It was pennies apiece but if you had a lot of ironing to do for someone, you could earn a few dollars.

As a child, my mother would sprinkle the clothes she would iron. I suppose she didn’t have a steam iron. Maybe they weren’t available or maybe they were too expensive. She would take the sprinkled clothes and roll them into a tube awaiting the iron. Her tableclothes always seemed to require the most attention. Usually made from cotton even the breeze as they hung on the clothesline didn’t remove the thousands of deep wrinkles. It was only after the heat of the iron that they emerged smooth enough to grace her table.

My ex-husband was in the Army. That was my most difficult time with ironing. Fatigues were made of a heavy cotton material. In the trailer in which we lived, we had a washing machine but no dryer. Fatigues were to be stiff enough to stand on their own so I learned how to use liquid starch. Along with the cloth diapers I washed daily in a separate load, I would wash and starch fatigues.

As they hung together on the clothesline, they would often get an addition rinse from the daily afternoon rain shower in North Carolina. Somehow, I always missed my opportunity to take them down before the rain.

For literally hours, I would stand at the ironing board ironing those fatigues. Cans of spray starch were used in order to smooth out the hardened wrinkles. Looking back, I wonder if it would have been cheaper to just send them out to be laundered?  I was only 19 years old.  I wanted to be a good wife and good wives did these types of things.

As I ironed this morning, I thought of something else. I thought of a sermon I heard a very long time ago. The church was born in part out of the Jesus movement. The energy in the early days was palpable. Young people with zeal crowded the basement of a church. I would sit on the counter going into the kitchen for a birds-eye view.  Our leader, Pastor Joe had a gift for storytelling. I doubt he had taken a class in Narrative Preaching-it just came natural.

There are sermons he preached 40 years ago that I still remember. I remember his sermon about cursing the fig tree. He said that church could look good, have all sorts of programs but without fruit, it was not fulfilling God’s desire. Another time he talked about his daughters. He said how he loved to boost them up into the back of their station wagon. He likened it to how God takes delight in boosting us up. I learned from Joe that God was not someone who was stern and wanted to punish me. He was someone who loved His kids.

I am guessing his text was from Ephesians 5:25-27
 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless
As I ironed, I thought of Joe talking about the brides he’d married in the church. He talked about their obsession with the iron. The dress would be perfect to his eye. Nevertheless, to the eye of the bride, there was always one more wrinkle to smooth away. Everything had to be perfect for her groom.

I’ve known the Lord all of my life. I have been washed and cleansed. Yet as I ironed today, I asked God to show me that wrinkle; to give me the eyes of a bride preparing for her groom. When my Bridegroom will come, I do not know. I do know He will come.

Matthew 25: 5-6 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  "At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'

1 comment:

  1. Joyce, I well remember both my grandma and my mom ironing like that. I rarely iron except for a few of my husband's shirts. But there was a lesson during your time of ironing that wasn't lost on me.



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