Julie Lyles Carr: Sunday Selah

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Selah

Catch for us the foxes,
       the little foxes
       that ruin the vineyards,
       our vineyards that are in bloom.
Song of Solomon 2:15 

It begins with a coffee mug.

A travel coffee mug, to be exact.

It is placed next to the sink, asking to be rinsed out and dried in anticipation of the next day's commute to work or commute to the homeschool table, ready to receive a fresh infusion of organic ground coffee bean and a splash of chemical-laden artificial creamer. 

We have a collection of these travel coffee mugs, the receptacles of our beverage breakfast of sorts.  Over the course of a few days, a small congregation of them can gather at the edge of the sink, brushed stainless steel surfaces gleaming. 

And it causes a problem.

Because the presence of just one travel coffee mug adjacent the sink indicates a permission I didn't intend.  It allows other members of the family to come to the belief that all the rules about putting one's own dishes in the dishwasher, all the rules about cleaning up after oneself, all the requests that the counters of the kitchen stay free of stray items, the presence of that one little travel mug wipes all those rules and requests right out.

And then a cup of milk is left on the other side of the sink.

And then a Barbie shoe is set down next to the cup of milk.

And then a glass of water is left next to the Barbie shoe.

And then a plate with the remnants of French toast.

And then a stray spoon.

And soon, the brim of the sink is grimily jeweled with glass and pastel sippy cups and silver forks.

It all starts with that one little fox, that one slip from the household principle, rendering  a counter top of exceptions, more little foxes.

And without vigilance, without maintenance, the simple surface, the platform for building nutritious meals, for mixing up ingredients of comfort cookies, becomes cluttered and chaotic.

And it all starts with the travel mug.

Those little travel mugs creep around the well-spring of my heart.  I allow a little something to sit at the edge of my heart, something that seems harmless, a little clean-up I'll get to a little later.  But it sits there a while.  And then a new little issue comes along, a cup of gossip, a glass of nettle.  And soon, the surfaces of my life become cluttered and messy, lots of little messes that had they been cleaned up instead of set down to be dealt with at a more convenient time, the larger compilation would not have developed.

So I'm clearing the conscience counters again, I'm washing up the population of cups and dishes and travel mugs.  I'm motivated again to deal with the little stains, the smaller chores.

Because things just seem to go so much smoother when the borders of my soul are kept clean.

When the little foxes are chased off.

When I keep the travel coffee mug off the counter.


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