Have you ever had one of those days(or weeks, or months) in which you simply can't get dried off? In these less than comfortable times, we are asked to dare to look past the soft and comfortable, and perhaps set it aside in favor of the stiff and scratchy. The towel with less or no fabric softener may feel abrasive at first, but then something happens. It soaks up all that cold water and softens. There is something invigorating about a towel that has been hung on the clothesline to dry. It smells like life- a mixture of sun and smoke, light and shadows. It is thirsty and ready to do its job.
We've had a series of line dried towels in recent months..the closing of my center, a serious surgery for our son, dire challenges and a move home for our adult daughter, and most recently, the serious and sudden illness of our youngest daughter. I found myself standing close to the edge, clinging to my scratchy towel and longing for the smell of fabric softener. As I inhaled again and again, I begged for softness. At the same time, I bristled, ready to shrug it off, fearing that the edge had become my permanent place.
And then a friend from church arrived with chicken pot pie, and a birthday cake for our son who had the misfortune to have a birthday the day our daughter returned home from the hospital. Another friend arrived with barbecue chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a birthday cake. The next day, another friend drove me to drop my car off for repairs so that it would be safe for my daughter's follow up visit in Boston. She brought dinner, and, (you guessed it!) a cake! Another friend brought chicken soup. The repair shop called later in the afternoon to let me know my car was ready, and that the repairs had been paid for. While we struggled to soak up and accept that kindness, another friend arrived with flowers, a pint of fresh strawberries and two half gallons of ice cream. Still, I stood on that edge. My friends assured me I wouldn't stay there, and told me again how loved our family is. Two more friends brought chicken soup, and brownies and non alcoholic champagne. Our pastor arrived at our door with a card and financial help from our church toward parking and gas and meals on the go, and the mounting expenses that come with carting a child back and forth to specialists in Boston. She reinforced how very much we are loved.
A week after her discharge, I ventured back to Boston with our amazingly healthy daughter. Her team of specialists is working to figure out what made her so sick so quickly. Some disagree on the details of her diagnosis, but all agree that time and testing will tell for sure. On the drive there, a feeling of deep and absolute calm enfolded me. I felt as though I was sitting in the doughy and comforting lap of a doting grandparent. I felt love encircling me. I breathed in the unmistakable scent of fabric softener and smiled. My daughter and I decided to have a "beauty scavenger hunt"; to find the gorgeous in the ordinary and to love this day just as it was. We breathed in the scent of line dried towels. They smelled of life. Of sun and smoke, light and shadows. I was ready, finally, to step back from the edge, and allow the stress and fear to be absorbed up by the love surrounding us.
There will be more Boston visits, more tests, and probably more hurdles in the days and months ahead. There will also be school plays, and dances, and playing in the snow. There will be valentines, and laughter and all the scents of life. My wish for us and for each of you is that a beauty scavenger hunt becomes a common daily event, and that love wraps itself around you in such a way that its warmth absorbs up all of life's cold droplets.