Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dirty windows...

One of the reasons I fell in love with my new home was the windows. All the rooms are filled with large old windows, allowing natural light to flood each space. I loved the thought that, because this house was built before air conditioning, every window would have been opened wide letting warm San Antonio breezes blow through the house.

My back living room had originally been a large porch and was long ago converted into a cozy den area with floor to ceiling plate glass windows that overlook the back yard. It is these windows that make this room so charming.

The first time I walked into this house the windows were sparkling clear and shiny clean, enabling every room to appear larger than it actually was. I remember walking away from that first visit thinking about those great windows.

I moved into the house after some reconstruction work had already taken place. I had all the old wood floors stripped, sanded and refinished, leaving a fine coat of dust to blanket the house. Filling in doorways, creating new passageways, adding built-in shelves and cabinets, all contributed to an additional layer of dust that created a gritty film that covered the once crystal clear windows. 

In addition, the wooden deck was dismantled, tree branches and brush removed, and the debris from construction of a new storage room all mixed with drenching rain brought rack and ruin to my window’s sparkling sheen. 

After a month, every window in this house was a disaster. I would look through smudged filthy rain streaked windows and grimace. You are no doubt wondering why I didn’t grab a ladder, bucket of sudsy water, garden hose and rags and bring my windows back to their original luster? I thought about it every waking daylight moment, but the exterior construction was to begin at any moment, or so I thought. Why go to all the trouble of washing these eyesores when I knew asphalt was still to be removed, new concrete and flagstone were to be laid, and more dirt and dust were just days away from adding another layer of gunk? So I waited and waited. I thought I would wait until everything was complete and then hire a professional window cleaner to hit it hard. I waited some more.

About a week ago it finally hit me, why was I waiting? Isn’t having clean windows much like making up your bed everyday? Why make up your bed every morning when you just mess it up every night? Why rake leaves when more leaves are still falling? Why take a bath when you will just get dirty again? Okay, maybe that’s not a great example, but you get where I’m going, right?

Sunday afternoon found me on a ladder scrubbing windows, not a pleasant job and I will certainly hire a professional from here on out, but my point is, after several hours of a little effort, I could see out of my windows once more. Now I can look out and enjoy seeing blue skies, Fall leaves fluttering to the ground and a backyard that still has weeks of work to be done before it is enjoyable, but now I can see it all clearly.

There is a reason with purpose that I am expounding on my window cleaning saga. Yesterday, unexpectedly, my path crossed with a young woman on an outing with her son. It didn’t take me long to notice this young mom, who I’ll call Teresa. I was a bit taken back by her attire, a tank top and short shorts. Her thin body was covered in tattoos. She was smiling, attentive and very hands on with her little boy, I’ll rename him Jesse. His clothes clean, but disheveled and his very long, thick, dark hair shinny, but unkept. Jesse, was laughing, attentive and enjoying their outing in a nearby park.

I took the chance to find some shade and sat down on along side Teresa. She was friendly and quite outgoing. It didn’t take long for her to tell me she was going to school to become an anesthesia tech, she currently worked as an LVN, but wanted more. 

I have no idea how our conversation veered from that to her telling me about her son. Jesse, was born with hemophilia, a medical condition in which the ability of the blood to clot is severely reduced, causing severe bleeding with the slightest wound. Teresa was open, matter-of-fact and very knowledgable when it came to her son’s condition. We talked for quite a while about her fears concerning his health and her ability to care for him. She told me he had a port in this stomach because he had blown out all of his veins in his neck, arms and legs. Jesse had already missed 2 weeks of school because a bruise had turned into a bleed and they had to ensure infection wouldn’t develop. She told me of her guilt in getting pregnant with him because she was the carrier of this gene. As our conversation continued, Teresa never took her eyes off her son. Jesse was climbing through playground tires, gently swinging and exploring the park area, unbeknownst to him, this precious mother watched with an anxious eye. 

As I was leaving I heard Teresa call out to me, “I would like to show you something I put together for Jesse’s teachers.” She pulled a 3-ring binder from her backpack with a smiling picture of Jesse on its cover. It was filled with plastic sleeves that held photos of some of Jessie’s injuries, instruction for what to look for if he fell, medical treatment and information carefully spelled out as to what to do for him if he was to begin bleeding. I looked Teresa in the eyes and told her Jesse was blessed to have her as his mom. I told her how amazing, how courageous, how strong I thought she was. We hugged when we left one another. I told her I would keep them both in my prayers and she responded that I would also be in her prayers.

As I walked away, I knew my life had been blessed by meeting this dear young woman. Arriving home I became more and more ashamed of myself. How could I have been so quick to judge this amazing young mother just because her physical appearance didn’t meet up to “my standards“? I thought of my dirty windows. I thought how over time my heart and my thoughts had become blanketed in grime and film and gunk causing my thoughts and feelings to become cloudy and distorted. I realized I had been in need of a window cleaner long before yesterday, but what had I been waiting for?  I’m not even sure I realized how in need I was of a good scrubbing. I love that there are times when God finally says, enough is enough and it is then He sends the most unlikely people to clean my windows so that I can see clearly exactly what or who is in front of me.

I met a saint yesterday, Saint Teresa. This incredible young woman cleaned the windows of my heart with her courage, her tenacity and her love for her son. Her words scrubbed away the film that had covered and distorted the windows of my heart and my soul.  I am thankful for this encounter and I pray the next time I see harshness, impatience, judgement begin to gunk up my view I’ll think of Saint Teresa and ask God to send in his expert professional window cleaners to give me a well-needed scrubbing.

For what it’s worth,

Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”