Steve and I received a beautiful towel set when we were first married. It was a lovely shade of robin’s egg blue and had delicate hand-made lace attached. It was just too pretty to actually use, so, we hung it on our towel rack, and I would just dust it off in my weekly house cleaning. It became a decoration, something to look at, rather than what it was meant to be.
When we lived in South Dakota, my dear wonderful grandparents came for a treasured visit. We had been married over 3 years by that point so the towels had been a fixture for quite a while. One day, I went into the bathroom to find one of the wash cloths wet and crumpled next to the sink. I’m sure I probably openly gasped to see it. I discovered that my dear sweet Papa had used it to wash his face! What? Use a wash cloth to wash your face! What an incredible concept?! I said, “Papa, you weren’t supposed to USE it, you just look at it”. Well, I am sure it was as confusing for him to hear that statement as it sounds to me to write it. He felt awful, as if he had done something wrong. I had made him feel that way with that one sentence. My Papa would have walked over hot coals for me, and I had hurt his precious feelings with my absurd comment. Now many years later, with my Papa gone over 30 years, I could literally cry over my words.
I’m sure that if anyone were asked, “which is more important…things or people?” we would all shout out in unison the answer “PEOPLE, OF COURSE” thinking it to be a silly question. However, sometimes we belie our answer with our actions. I let a wash cloth take top billing over my grandfather’s feelings.
Many years later, I still have that wash cloth. It is faded and tattered and the lace is mostly gone. I use it to clean and even wash the toilet. It means absolutely nothing to me now, and yet, these many years later, I still remember the way I made my grandfather feel. This old wash cloth has become a Tree Star for me…. for even though we know better, we still sometimes opt for things over people. I try very hard not to do that. I am sure that there are many days that I fall short. A very wise person counseled that one should never own anything that they weren’t willing to let someone use. This old wash cloth helps me to remember that.
“And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” ~ Luke 12:15