Featured #TellHisStory Writer: Shelly Miller

September 3, 2013 | 64 comments

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During 2013, dozens of talented writers are joining me to cheer you on in your storytelling. These guest-writers will share a few helpful words with you right here every Tuesday night, to encourage you as you #TellHisStory. (Come back after midnight to link up your story by clicking here.) And now, I’m delighted to introduce you to my friend Shelly Miller. 

Use Your Senses

It was one of my first stories as a paid writer, a feature about a mission trip to Rwanda. I was nervous about how my new boss would critique it; how the literary agent on the trip would like it.  When I got her response, my shoulders dropped like a dangling shirt released from the clothes line. Relieved it made it into the basket, not the puddle.

She told me she could see the red dirt clinging to their shoes, feel the bouncy car ride over potholes, the swerve around pedestrians; smell the mysterious red sauce simmering on the coal stove in the dark corner of the one room windowless house. And isn’t this what every writer longs to hear, not just on her first story, but all of them?

When I write a story, I think about how I can describe the scene so that you can see it, taste it, smell it, feel it, and hear it. Words bring life to a story, evoking the senses. Like a pop-up book for the soul.

So, describe where you are and what you are doing right now in the comments using your five senses. Let’s have some fun.

 

Shelly Miller is a writer, photographer, clergy wife, mother of two teens, and a leadership coach.  She  writes stories that make people think differently about life and helps women discover call. You can read more on her blog Redemptions Beauty and at Living the Story, her column at BibleDude.net. Connect with her everyday life on Facebook and Twitter.

by | September 3, 2013 | 64 comments

64 Comments

  1. Lori Harris

    I curl my legs under my own weight as I shift my body further into the leather chair and the cool of the leather warms under the heat of my skin. I sip white wine, on ice, and I’m reminded of the muscadine grapes I picked as a child. This memory births into a smell that I alone can smell and I remember my grandfather bent over his grape vines, Red Man tobacco dribbling down his chin and I can smell his tobacco as I close my eyes. I smile because his scent fills my writing space,even in the middle of the city. The kids and the Man have turned in for the night, but I can still hear the girls giggling as they whisper into the dark. The bells around the kittens’ necks jiggle with each scratch of their neck and the clock in the school room ticks minutes…

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      #Boom! Way to rock the comment box, Ms. Lori Harris. I was right there with you.

      Reply
      • Lori Harris

        Thanks sweet lady- love your heart and the way God uses you to reach into my corner of the world.

        Reply
  2. Shelly Miller

    I could see you there in your quiet home, winding down for the night and thinking about those fond memories of your grandfather Lori. So good, thanks for jumping in. I’m sitting on the couch with my feet propped up on the coffee table, distracted by a conversation between my daughter and husband about college. I’m getting used to the way my new glasses make an indentation on the bridge of my nose and thankful we are typing fast to talk to each other.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Shelly! So fun having you here. And I’m digging your new glasses. Saw your photo on Facebook.

      Reply
    • Lori Harris

      you’re welcome Shelly- I love seeing you show up in all my favorite places!

      Reply
  3. simplystriving

    {Love seeing you here, Shelly!} I haven’t written in what feels like ages, but I’m going to give this a try:

    My ankles wrap loosely along the padded tapestry of pansies. It’s edges worn thin from repetition, revealing how well this space is loved: My quiet place. What’s left of the last pedicure shimmers as I nestle in for the evening, reminding of where these feet have tread recently…through warm sandy beaches and the kind of refreshing cool tides only summers bring.

    The hinting breeze of Fall seeps in through the chocolate curtained canvas, drawing in the aroma of bonfires brewing. A faint melody of light chatter with choruses of laughter filter in and I want to call my neighbors and thank them for showing me what’s loved most about summer doesn’t have to end. For you can take the gift of now and spend it however its glorified best. Wherever time has placed you.

    I glance down at Mark Buchanan’s words sprawled wide across my lap and I savor long the gift of rest this evening holds. He reminds me then that today–this moment, this season, is ripe with opportunity. I close my eyes as my head rises and I thank God for this opportunity to harvest…

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I think it’s so amazing how — with a few choice sensory images — we can draw a reader straight into the room. My eyes followed your eyes — from your toes to your curtains to your book. So glad you shared! Lovely.

      Reply
  4. hisfirefly

    dust makes my eyes blink, once, twice, too many times for comfort
    the same dust tickles my nose, throat scratchy
    my ears can’t escape the assault of the whining drill, the violent hammer strikes
    the cold air tenses my skin, pouring in through doors and windows left open to urge paint fumes to escape
    walls are coming down
    and after the storm, rebuilding begins

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Makes my throat and eyes itch, just reading it! Good work, Karin. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Sharon O

    I am sitting on my computer chair which is half empty. Usually my old lady cat is sitting with me as I hear her purring and feel her paw touch my leg and her soft head push against my ribs. I am sad as tears fall down my cheeks and I choose to feel the LOSS deeply. She was worth the sorrow. She was loved. I removed her food which was near my desk and the smell is now gone. I so wanted her to lick the kitty milk she smelled but instead she walked away. Tonight the rooms are quiet and I do not hear her, see her or sense her being near me. Saying good bye is a deep heartache. Today at 4:05 we said good bye to ‘our Smudge’ age 16. 1997-2013 she is peaceful now.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh Sharon … I’m touched by your story, and so sad. Your writing brought the sorrow right up into my throat. I am so sorry for your loss. That food bowl, gone? That got me.

      Reply
  6. Karmen M.

    I want to tell you of a serene atmosphere, the kind of place where peace and tranquility flow. Instead, I am in a room where every thing seems to congregate. The black fluffy cat stretched out in the window, the still waiting to be unpacked boxes along the edges of the walls, the 3 year old boy who prefers sleeping on Momma’s floor to the softness of his new bed down the hall, and the laundry (both clean and dirty) in piles. Yet even amongst the chaos that has collected here it is somehow peaceful, because it is home.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Yay, Karmen! Thanks for painting a lovely picture for us with your words. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Lorretta @Dancing On The Dash

    My back aches from sitting in this chair way. too .long…the truth is, I really need to go to bed. It’s my “witching hour”, the period of time between 9 and midnight when I may sit (mostly) undisturbed to write, design or edit video. Tonight it’s video and although it’s not yet eleven, my coach is already turning into a pumpkin. The window’s cracked open just a smidge..the Georgia air is unseasonably cool and sweet and the crickets seem to know the secret; autumn is near. Ginger lilies work their scented fingers through the opening and soon I’m caught up in the symphony of night time scents and sounds…day dreaming..(night dreaming?) almost forgetting I’m supposed to be at work…at my desk. A flicker of movement catches my eye and I spot him; a shiny tree frog, clinging to the glass pane licking up mouthfuls of unsuspecting moths attracted to the glow of my lamp. Struck anew by the wonder of the small, mesmerized by the magic moment of it all and suddenly, I’m not as tired as I thought I was.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Fantastic. My eye followed yours to the “flicker of movement.” We don’t have shiny tree frogs in Iowa. How I’d love to see one on my window!

      Reply
  8. Dea Moore

    I am wearing my fleece pajama pants even though it is 90 degrees outside. Air conditioners give me chill bumps and I need to get some meat on these bones before I get old. That’s my excuse for not being out on a night walk with Jeff. His stench from the stroll through the neighborhood just wafted into my space around my chair in the bedroom. He left the stench but at least I can hear him in there showering. He’s good that way. I am hoping when I slip off these fleece pants later, he’ll have the my side of the bed warmed up. But that would be living someone else’s life. I am not that spoiled. (No, of course I am. All I would have to do is ask!)

    Two of my favorite peeps and inspirations in one place. Love you ladies and how you bless the world—bring glory to God with your words.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      So glad you came, Dea. I’m in my fleece jammies tonight too. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Karrilee Aggett

    I just got home from an evening walk that stretched a little long – conversation pushing us forward… honesty, drawing us in. We lost track of distance and time when darkness fell on us earlier than expected – another sure sign of autumn unfolding soon! My ears are clicking a little from the evening breeze; the summers’ last scent a blend of fresh cut grass & gasoline gently blows through my hair. As we turn to head home, we are surprised to find the sun setting already and it lifts our attention higher. We shifted from talking of troubles and concerns and walked in silence as the sky was painted tangerine and neon pink… He captured us yet again. How is it that simply lifting our eyes up to the hills can bring in such a shift in perspective? Thank God for His glory – splashed out across the sky, dripping down all over and through us! Just thank God!

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Your words reveal the goodness and glory of God. Thank you, Karrilee.

      Reply
  10. Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life

    My fingernails go clip clop against the keyboard. I’m enveloped in the dark with eyes pinpointed on a screen. An arm’s reach away, a hulkish form is cowering under the covers and wheezing a rhythmic tune. In the chasm between us, I am delighted to discover a small token of his affection — two round chocolatey cream-filled discs placed lovingly on a white napkin. I quickly pop one delicious morsel in my mouth, but the crunch awakens the sleeping giant. “What did I do?” he sheepishly groans.

    I think he needs me. Time to power down and snuggle in close. But first, another cookie… 🙂

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Laughing out loud, Lyli! Loved this.

      Reply
    • stultsmamaof4

      “wheezing a rhythmic tune” – great phrase!! 🙂

      Reply
  11. lynndmorrissey

    My ablutions completed for the evening, I’m at the computer (again), craning my neck like a giraffe to sharpen into focus the blurred letters on the screen. I’ve removed my contact lenses, and my progressive glasses allow me to see objects at every conceivable distance, except for the computer screen or piano sheet music. I’m getting neck spasms. My light-weight black-and-fuchsia floral robe is in the wash, so I’m cocooned in a plush, aquamarine one, and I’m roasting. Okay, that’s it. I can’t stand it, so I’ve just flung my robe from my upper torso: I can breathe. Good grief. I’m having déjà vu. I recall another time when I disrobed in a midlife hot-flash, late-night, while sitting at the computer. I was oblivious to the fact that I’d accidentally left my office blinds open and that I had just hot-flashed the neighborhood! Now, I look left and am relieved to find that my blinds are drawn. My daughter Sheridan is padding down the hall, so I clutch my robe to my chest. I look right. Sheridan, wide-eyed, exclaims that she has just discovered a slug in my shower. A *slug*! This is worse than flashing the neighborhood. How on earth is there a slug in my shower? I’m resigned: I will restrict myself to tub baths. My husband, Michael, has just walked down the hall carrying a wadded up paper-towel. I think the slug has met his demise. Mike and Sheridan have now gone to bed, and I’m alone in my office with visions of shower slugs dancing in my head. I’m going to have strange dreams tonight. The house is quiet, save the shaking sleigh bells of crickets outside my window, the occasional thud of cubes dropping in the distant ice-maker, and the television droning on, unattended, in the kitchen. I strain my ears to listen. There’s the all-too-familiar news of Obama and Assad, cantankerous Congressional debates, egregious chemical weapons attacks, mass murder, charred bodies, over a million helpless children refugees, possible war with Syria. I can’t breathe. My mind reels. My stomach thuds. I wish I were dreaming.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      So I know that the ending is serious, tragic stuff, Lynn … but you had me laughing out loud with your carrying-on about the hot flashes and shower slugs dancing in your head. So glad you played along here. 🙂

      Reply
      • lynndmorrissey

        Whew! Ok, great, Jennifer. After I wrote that (and read all the lyrical beauty of other posts), I thought, Oh my, I am going to shock these proper Christian ladies; but glad you understood my humor. I’ll have to send you the original article about that hot-flashing! (my coined term for what I wrote about above). And remember: Your time is coming1 Ha!
        Love you!
        L.

        Reply
  12. Michelle Christy

    With the swoosh of the door echoes travel down the hallway beckoning us on. Each brisk step brings the noise just a little bit closer. Step into the heat. Quickly find a seat. Constant chatter bounces off the walls and chants rise from the cascade of purple bleacher seats. From one corner to the other lanky arms and legs gazelle across the court. Ponytails swat at the net. Like a game of hot potato the ball pops up and down from one hand to the next. Raised hands rocket the ball over the net. Shoes screech with the lunge of the leg. Knee pads skid across the planks of a newly finished floor. Mingled with the heat of the game is the sweet smell of coconut lemon verbena and all such girly things.

    With an outstretched arm and ball in hand, she cocks the other back. Four fingers and a thumb spread open wide, bare the palm, like a dog baring its teeth ready to bite. Tossing the ball, the trigger released. Palm and round leathered sphere meet face to face launching into flight. Skimming the net the ball floats and drops in the gap. Score! And it’s wrap. The crowd erupts with a resounding clap and approving laughter. People wander and wiggle. People greet and gather. Players celebrate their work together.

    Can you guess where I was this night?

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Fantastic, Michelle! You handle your pen as well as your speaking voice. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Anita Mathias

    I am sitting up in bed in my bedroom, under my red duvet. I have been up for two hours, and am catching up with emails and reading blogs rather than writing. Mourning doves are cooing, and the farmer in the field outside my window, and beyond our garden is baling hay. The dog slumbers at my feet and I can hear his breath. I hear the sparrows chirp, and savour this moment of peace.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Anita … I can practically smell the hay. Feels like home to read your words.

      Reply
  14. Shelly Miller

    Oh my goodness, I went to bed and woke up to all this loveliness. Look at what happened here Jennifer, what a gift! Thank you for hosting me and all this creative beauty.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I know! Crazy cool!

      Reply
  15. Kris Camealy

    The music of a child’s electronic game ticks and bings in the background. I feel the tightness of my shoulders, the dull ache leftover from yesterdays over zealous work-out. Sunlight slips in under the pull-down shade across the room, it’s a sign that my time here is up. One little girl in a pink nightgown catches my eye, her long blond hair falling across her cheek makes her seem older and suddenly I can see her at 13, though she’s just 5. I release that image because I cannot bare to face it yet. The laundry in the basket at my feet stares me down, with it’s sloppy sleeves and pant legs hanging over the rim. And so I close this laptop and seek out coffee and the warmth of the shower. The brightening sun, the laundry and the children gathering make it clear that the quiet time has ended. Thus begins my day.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      I totally getting that unexpected glimpse of the older child that is-not-yet, but will too-soon-be. Thanks for this, Kris. Lovely.

      Reply
  16. Rebekah

    Colombian coffee lingers in the stillness. The steamy rich creaminess on my tongue is but a memory till I fill my cup again. I lean back in the black leather desk chair from the books before me; my anchor of a study Bible spread open and a devotional split back and face down. The hum of the computer fills the quiet space; it is deafening in the silence of the dawn. The tweet of a text just alerted me of a beautiful message of hope and grace and truth. A friend is praying for me and I lean into truth to rest in the arms of God, my Comforter. My heart will embrace the beauty of His precious words this day for when I will have to lay myself face down on the cold table and the technicians will tell me not to move a muscle or the magnetic imaging will have to be repeated. The noise will close in on me and send me into an almost state of panic. Just me alone in a great room filled with bangs that will ricochet around me. It will be so loud I will only be able to chant in my mind, “The Lord is my shepherd . . . He leads me beside still waters.” I start this day sitting curled in a peaceful silence. I will have to end laying prostrate holding onto the promise of being held in His presence, a safe pasture for those who trust in Him, in the midst of magnetic waves that will attempt to drown me as they scan my chest for any sign of cancer. I will go from here meditating on the words of the Psalmist, letting them linger in the recesses of my heart: “You are good and do good . . . let your steadfast love comfort me.”

    Reply
    • Shelly Miller

      Rebekah, thank you for this. Praying for you today, for a good report in Jesus name.

      Reply
      • Karrilee Aggett

        Praying in agreement with Shelly… covering you and asking Him to comfort and hold you… to heal and give you peace!

        Reply
      • dukeslee

        So many of us, praying. xo

        Reply
    • Michelle Christy

      Thank you for sharing. I was there only just this past Thursday. I am a breast cancer survivor of 4 years. I too lie prostrate for a yearly tube dwelling hour. It has been a place where my God has met me on several occasions. The magnetic imaging is searching for that which can not be seen, but My God is a God who sees! He who created me and the most minuscule of cells and cell parts sees into the very depths of my physical and spiritual being. This brings me great comfort and peace. He, the Great Seer, is not unaware of what is going on. Indeed, He is good and does good! Remember, the eternal God is your refuge and underneath are His everlasting arms! God bless you with abundant grace and peace dear one!

      Reply
      • dukeslee

        Beautiful, Michelle. Thank you.

        Reply
    • lynndmorrissey

      I am praying for your Rebekah. I’ve been there, with that very test. And I also had the sure knowing that God was holding me as I lay prone. He is always holding you, and somehow, you’re not cold anymore.
      Love
      Lynn

      Reply
  17. S. Etole

    Enveloped by silence, the kitty sleeps cuddled in the mother-softness of my favorite throw, and I long for relief from life-worn limbs. The sun rises as the words, “the Lord is mindful of you,” rise to the surface of my heart. The Psalmist knew. As does the Lord.

    I’m so not a writer, Shelley, but thanks to both you and Jennifer, reading the comments here was all gift.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      You help me see and hear things deeper than you’ll ever know, Susan. Love to you.

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      Susan … You ARE a writer. I remember a certain story that ended up in a certain book. I love your voice, friend.

      Reply
  18. Sandra Heska King

    The dew-laden grass numbs my flip-flopped feet. Wesley does his business, then bounds under the tire swing. His belly skims the sand under it, as he strikes a shortcut to the back door. I scoop him up like a football in my left arm and catch a whiff of wet dog mingled with fabric softener from a night’s sleep in his freshly-washed crate cushion. I use my right hand to wipe his fat furry paws with the blue hand towel that hangs on the back kitchen peg, then briskly rub grit from his tummy. I kick off my black shoes and note the green threads that cling to my toes, so I swipe the towel across them, too, and then slip into nearby dry slippers. I step over the gate between kitchen and back kitchen, set Wesley down on brick vinyl. He leaves little wet footprints while he chases King Kobe Kat. I sit down in an old, small, brown, Windsor-style chair, scoot up to our white porcelain-topped Hoosier-type table, and take a sip of lukewarm coffee from my “I Love Lucy” mug.

    Reply
    • Sandra Heska King

      Oops. Let’s toss in the sounds of highway whooshes and cricket chirps and cicada vibrations and a faraway train whistle…

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      Oh you. You always do such a fine job of captivating all of my senses.

      Reply
  19. Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

    So true, Shelly! It’s the stories where I try to incorporate all those senses that seem to have touched people most…rang true to them somehow.

    Well, right now…

    I feel cool air at the window beside my computer as I tug the string to lift the shade. A welcome sign of exhilarating air outside. I open to that still summer fall on the way refreshing and breathe in His presence. Sun is dappling the rails of my porch with wind-waving patterns, breeze tickling the chimes hanging, and I hear Him whispering…give those worries to me, Pam. What seems impossible is fanning to what I am about to do for you. Don’t be afraid. You will not run out.

    Flower scents mingling with my neighbor’s dryer softener waft in from my garden as I mull those words… A bird cheeps. Another here… one there. Over the music of those chimes He sings of birds of the air who do not worry… and I feel my shoulders relax. “You own the cattle and sheep on a thousand hills Lord,” I think not so randomly, with a sudden image of yesterdays woolly cloud “lambs” scampering across blue skies and just peeking now above the trees across my way…

    Reply
    • lynndmorrissey

      Pam, I always love reading your lilting prose, rich with metaphor. And I can’t tell you how much this phrase spoke to me about something the Lord is telling me, personally: Don’t be afraid. You will not run out.
      We all have fears that we will run o.o. something, don’t we? But we serve a God of infinite supply, who blesses His children by meeting their needs and providing so much more. So whatever we fear will run out, by His goodness, won’t. Thank you for this reminder!
      Love
      Lynn

      Reply
      • Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

        Thank you, Lynn. (As soon as I clicked submit on this one, I of course saw a lot of flaws I should have changed… 🙂 God is so good… that He would encourage you with that phrase too. Yes, we do all have fears, but I’m clinging to His name El Shaddai too… Love, Pam

        Reply
      • dukeslee

        Agreed, Lynn! And thank you, Pam, for sharing.

        Reply
  20. dukeslee

    I so appreciate ALL of your stories. Though I haven’t responded to each of you individually, know how much I am soaking up your strong images and memorable details. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing here in the comment box!

    Reply
  21. Floyd

    I’m freezing, almost shivering, sweat drying in my gym clothes too slowly, but too busy to take the time to change. I like it when I have chills in the Arizona heat… even if I am inside. I’m also feeling pretty good about the fact that though sweat laden, I smell better than the kitchen where the halibut was prepared, despite all the cleaning and taking the garbage out.

    The taste of the disgusting protein shake I had still lingers in mouth and feels like it’s caked on the sides of my mouth and I keep reaching up to dislodge the smudge that isn’t there… I almost threw it away in front of the guy who made it… it wasn’t too many years back that I wouldn’t have been able to catch myself. Still a little disappointed that it became a battle within.

    In the midst of a typical day with deals going down, dealing with attorneys, liars, crooks, and thieves, I stumbled upon this link and reminder from my good friend Lynn to take the time for the things that matter most in life, to ponder on all things from our Father… and my soul is lifted by encouraging words from my family in Christ.

    Jennifer and Shelly on the same site? It’s like the dream team! Thanks for making me stop to smell the sweat, fish… and roses…

    Reply
    • lynndmorrissey

      Floyd, I’m so glad you came by and took time just to express and the way you always bring it back to our Father. Sorry you were having such a rough day, and so glad that this site brought you such encouragement. And wow, you’ve nailed it: Jennifer and Shelly, the dream team! That’s so neat. I thank these ladies for their giftedness, their commitment to God, and their commitment to obey their calling. I owe them so much for their inspiration and to connect me with wonderful people like you and Pam! So thank you, Dream Team! You know who you are!
      Love
      Lynn

      Reply
      • Floyd

        Thank you for always looking out for me, sister!

        Reply
    • Shelly Miller

      So glad you stopped by and were encouraged Floyd. Your comment is a blessing, in all the best ways. Thank you.

      Reply
    • dukeslee

      You make me smile, Floyd. The scent of your post? It just seems to …. linger.

      🙂

      Reply
  22. Megan Willome (@meganwillome)

    It is 12:33 p.m., and I’ve finally made it to my desk–a picnic table. An eight-sided, handmade picnic table (thanks, Love!). It is only 82 degrees, which means I can stand to be outside. The sky is white with clouds. Thank the good Lord for overcast skies because I was in bed all morning with a migraine. Today’s news was not as bad as I feared; the migraine came on its own. Drinking mint cold-brewed green tea with a lunch of rice, peanuts and assorted veggies I roasted a couple of days ago. They were supposed to become part of a recipe. It rained this morning so everyone in town is happy. It’s amazing how many smiles can come from one-tenth of an inch of rain in the third year of a drought. Even my two terriers are still, watching to see how that silly little splash greens up the lawn.

    Reply
    • dukeslee

      Sigh.

      Megan? You amaze me.

      Reply
  23. stultsmamaof4

    Bare toes curl into soft carpet. Soft sounds of sleep stream from the man stretched out there on the floor. A lone train whistles in the distance. The glare of the computer screen startles the eye in a house that is dim with the light of a single lamp. It’s that late hour of night when all truly is quiet. No cries from the children now sleeping peacefully upstairs. No conversation from the man sleeping on the floor. Just my even breathing and the click-clack of the keys.

    Reply
    • Shelly Miller

      One of my favorite times of the day. You created the mood well.

      Reply
  24. Kelly Greer

    hmmm…so sleepy. The game is in the 16th inning and I know we won’t be going to bed until it’s over…win or loose. My eye lids droop as this evening’s eggplant, garlic and pepper seem to sizzle still on the cast iron grill pan. The a/c hums and even drums out a beat in the other room as the vents expand and contract. I sense my husband’s presence on the other side of the paper bag that wait empty now for yet another night’s popcorn treat. My stomach rises as my fingers peck these words and …it’s a winner! 5 to 4. Off to bed we go….good night ‘all!
    Hugs,
    Kelly

    Reply
  25. debyholtschlag

    She stood at one of the three sinks in the public bathroom. The one in the corner. Her stuff was piled on the floor beside her, level with the counter top. In one hand was the remains of a dirty rag and the other held a small sample bottle of hand sanitizer. Over and over she continued to wipe down the counter. Wringing the remnant of the rag under the full force of the water. When the bottle of sanitizer was empty, she held it under the water, until it was filled up. At times, she would rest her weary head in her hands as she viewed what she was doing as a never ending job.

    Nichalas says Chicago is a place where you can never be alone, but is one of the loneliest cities in the world.

    She stood there with women surrounding her, the line snaked around and out the door, yet she was in her own world. Talking to herself, mumbling words I could only pick up here and there. The anxiousness and anxiety poured out of her eyes, like the water pouring out of the faucet.

    Her actions brought to mind these verses, “Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you.I learned God-worship
    when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.” (Psalm 51:16-17)

    Her “flawless performance” in cleaning the sink, was only smearing the unseen germs around on the counter top. Over and over she was going through the motions, all the while using improper tools. And when she was done, she let go a breath of relief. Her pride in her work was momentary. In her mind, she still saw the filth.

    Much as God does when we are trying to remove sin in our lives our way, or just going through the motions.

    I walked into the empty stall, as she took the rag she had never let go of, and put it under the water, knowing she wasn’t yet done.

    Reply

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