Thursday, September 12, 2013

Note to my mother: You probably shouldn't read this one. You don't want to know.

"the dust that is on the floor"
Numbers 5:17

So, the thing is, my mother is a great housekeeper.  Too good, if there is such a thing. 

Which is not to say that she's obsessive-compulsive, because that's not her nature at all.   But she does like a clean, uncluttered house.  I've joked about it with her, because on more than one occasion, she has injured herself cleaning!  True story. 

Apparently, it skips a generation, because I am not the housekeeper she is.  Oh sure, I clean.  The dishes get done every day, and the laundry pretty much every day.  Bathrooms get cleaned, sheets get changed, floors get vacuumed and mopped. 

My kids, I'm sure, would like to chime in here that it's not all me that does all that cleaning.  Which is true.  But they clean because I've taught them it's important.  Or because I force them.  Depends which child...

But I don't dust.  At least not regularly.  I can live with dust, I guess, so I dust a shelf if I happen to be moving things off of it.  So I'm just very, relaxed about my dusting.  I dust almost everything if I know my mother is coming over.  But she doesn't always warn me, so...

And I have more clutter in my house than my mother does in hers.  But maybe that's because my house is smaller than hers, so I don't have as many places to put stuff.  Or maybe because there are four of living here, so there are more shoes and water bottles and jackets and books living here. 

No, I'm not defensive; why do you ask?

But now comes the part she probably shouldn't read.  Mom, if you're still here {which wouldn't surprise me; you're pretty stubborn}, consider yourself warned! 

I was standing at the counter a few weeks ago, first thing in the morning.  The Apple of my Eye had just left for work, and the kids weren't up yet.  I was sorting mail from the previous day, or something.  And the counter was a little cluttered.  The kids and I clean it off nearly every day, but maybe the day before had been too busy, or we'd been gone all day or something.

Anyhow, while moving things around, sorting or whatever, I knocked something off the counter onto the floor, where it skittered under the kitchen island.  It wasn't very bright in the kitchen, so I bent down to see what it was, and where it had gone. 

Our kitchen floor is white marble tile, except for the tile under the island.  Some of the tiles came loose a few years ago, and had to be replaced, but we couldn't find the exact tiles we had, so our friend who did the job for us chose a gray tile that picked up on the gray swirl in the marble, and then some smaller, grey and black and white tiles as a border.  That was a really long sentence to tell you that now it looks like a wonderful design choice, instead of just mismatched tiles. 

But the gray, obviously, is darker than white.  So even on my hands and knees, with the kitchen light on, I couldn't tell what had fallen.  So then I went and got a flashlight, and got down even lower.  And you know what I found? 

Dirt.  A few dust bunnies under the island, but then I turned my head and saw the baseboards under the kitchen cupboards.  Oh my.

We've lived in this house for many years, but I gotta be honest:  I'm not sure I've ever cleaned those baseboards.  I just never think about them.  The floor gets mopped, and the cupboards get cleaned, but I never considered the part under the cupboards. 

My mother taught me that mopping on one's hands and knees is the best way to mop.  You get into the corners that way, and maybe you notice things that need to be scraped off the floor, and you can avoid that pile of stuff that gets pushed ahead of a mop, and then left there.  

So I've spent time on my knees on my kitchen floor.  But it wasn't good enough.  Being on my knees wasn't enough.  I needed to go lower.

In Genesis 17, there is recorded a conversation between God and Abraham.  Abraham was ninety-nine years old, and it was a beautiful exchange, twenty-two verses long, full of momentous announcements on God's part.  He reiterated His covenant with Abraham, changed his name (from Abram) and Sarai's name to Sarah.  And He informed Abraham that he would have a son, from Sarah.

I've read it many times, and I have studied the book of Genesis in-depth, more than once, but a few weeks ago, while reading this passage, I noticed something new.  It's in verses 3 and 17, and it made me feel a little thoughtful when I read it.  And I thought of it again that morning on my kitchen floor.

The verses say: "Abraham fell on his face..."  When I noticed it, I was intrigued as to why it happened twice.  I could imagine, God appearing to Abraham, and him automatically falling to the ground in worship and respect.  But to say he did it again tells us that he didn't stay there for the whole conversation.  He either rose to his feet, or more likely, remained on his knees.  I guess we really don't know which.  And maybe it doesn't matter. 

On our knees is good.  It is a position of humility, respect and fear of God.  But nothing is more lowly than being down on your face.  Nothing says submission, and denotes a need for mercy than being down on one's face.  And Abraham didn't just do it as a formality.  Is was genuine, I think.  Maybe automatic.  It was most certainly appropriate.

Yes, on your knees is good.  You can see things you can't see from on your feet.  But there are times ~ in response to what He has done, what He is doing or who He is... there are times when falling on your face will allow you to see what you cannot see otherwise.

~ "Though the Lord is on high,
      Yet He regards the lowly" ~
Psalm 138:6

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