Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mom-Spit baths

© Christy K Robinson

When my brother and I were little kids, our parents took us on the road every summer. They packed up the green Rambler station wagon, with our suitcases on the top carrier, and an air mattress with sheets and pillows in the cargo area, along with a Styrofoam ice chest. I had a stack of library books, and my little brother played games or drove me crazy. It took two and a half days of round-the-clock driving to get from Phoenix, Arizona, to our grandparents’ homes in northern Minnesota.

We didn’t stay in motels or eat at restaurants along the way. Dad stopped for gas station restrooms (usually—unless we had to go potty between the car doors on the side of the road), and just long enough for Mom to make sandwiches and cut up fruit for us at a roadside picnic table.

Since we weren’t stopping at motels, we couldn’t take baths for three days. That meant washcloths and soap, and water from a bucket or the gas station restroom sink. So about 20 miles from our destination, Mom brought out the paper towels and the Mom Spit. My brother and I squirmed and shrank away, but in a Rambler, there wasn’t much space to hide.

“Ewww, Mom. Noooooooooo, not the spit!”

“It’s just the same as a mama cat, cleaning her kittens. Now hold still. That apple butter will come off your cheeks before we get there.” To get the process started, we'd stick our own tongues waaaay out and try to lick off our own chops. And then she'd spit on the paper towel and proceed to scrub off the schmutz.

It’s not really like a mama cat, you know. I watch my two cats grooming each other.  Mali is fast asleep on a chair, when Smetana, the younger one, jumps up and walks on Mali, who awakes. Smetana licks Mali’s forehead for maybe 30 seconds before she puts her head down for reciprocal grooming. Then she gets what she came for: at least 10 minutes of washing on her face, neck, chin, ears, and eyes, before they both fall asleep in bliss, a blur of fur.

Mom Spit is a universal experience, a timeless experience. Certainly my friends were on the receiving end, and have imposed it on their own young. And when I looked for an image to accompany this article, and typed in “mom spit,” wouldn’t you know, there’s actually a commercial product by that name! (Not the image I’m posting here.)

Moms would never use their own saliva to clean someone else's child. Mom Spit is intimate. It's a family matter. It shows a loving attention to detail.

Before Purel, before baby wipes,
before the Tide pen, there was:
Mom Spit.
It takes a lot of spit to wet a napkin or paper towel, even if it’s just a corner. It must have taken a lot of spit for Jesus to make mud out of dust, to heal the blind beggar—but just think of the royal and divine DNA mixed in with the dust of which we’re made! You know, Jesus probably knew a thing or two about Mom Spit when he was a little boy playing with friends, or that last minute before the caravan arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover.

When Jesus offers to wash us, it’s not something to squirm away from. For him, it meant the shedding of his blood, but for us, it’s a declaration that we’re as clean as he is, and that he has officially forgotten that we were ever dirty.  And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” Hebrews 8:11

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you. And thanks for spit-washing me so I’d look clean and angelic for Grandma.

Postscript: When I posted this in Facebook, the women commented on the experience of giving and receiving Mom Spit. The men commented on the picture of the car.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Turning water into wine

© Christy K Robinson
Looks like Jesus has been in Tesco again!
Jesus visited all the towns and villages in Galilee during his three-year ministry, and the Bible says that he healed everyone. The blind could see, the lame and paralyzed could walk, the poor-in-spirit (literally, asthmatics and those with breathing problems) could talk and sing and shout and climb stairs, the lepers sentenced to death were made whole and healthy as a chubby baby, the crazy people or those tormented by spirits could think and act rationally, the depressed were filled with energy and joy.

Jesus could turn a few baguettes or pita pockets with dried fish, into a satisfying sandwich for thousands, with baskets of leftovers to be collected for animal food.

His first recorded miracle happened when a days-long wedding celebration went overtime, the guests were flagging, and the beverages ran dry. His mother was confident that he could redeem the life of the party. So he had the huge water jars, used for ceremonial hand-washing or ritual bath water, filled with well water. When the jars were poured out, the best, most delicious wine of the week flowed into their goblets, and the wedding celebrations took on a second life. More dancing, more laughter, more family bonding, more friendships formed, more happy memories to take into the future. Story here.

When I saw the signage mistake in the image of the wine, I laughed. Maybe there was some guilt attached to my laughter, the fear of being sacrilegious. But it made me wonder: What if Jesus walked through the supermarket, and the bottled water spontaneously turned into wine? What if he walked past the meat coolers, and the meat became living creatures?  What if he went to the ice cream freezer, and made toffee-coated Klondike bars actually good for us, with negative 400 calories each, so they’re now weight-loss must-haves? He could! (I wish he would.)

What if you allowed Jesus to do something nice for another person, using your hands, feet, and heart? What if he inspired you to leave a random compliment on someone’s Facebook wall, or you called a friend or relative and invited them out for a coffee and a chat? What if you didn’t even state your intention, but you began regular prayer for someone? What if something powerful and positive came of your small act?

Endless what-ifs, and infinite answers—if they’re in the right hands. Miracles still happen.


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