Monday, July 10, 2006

When the going gets tough, the tough polish silver

OK -- it may not work for everybody but on the off-chance it'll work for you, I'm throwing it out there: polishing some silver is a works-for-me antidote to the powerless, helpless, nothing-I-do-ends-up-making-any-difference blues.

But since it is admittedly an option ripe for attacks of class-based assumptions before I get any of those in the comment section let me be perfectly clear: I recognize there are lots of people who live full, productive and fabulous lives who don't have old silver gathering dust begging to be polished. In which case, this will not work for you.

However, on Saturday afternoon when I was juggling writer's block with a sermon deadline looming ever closer, post-convention stress syndrome exacerbated by our diocesan clergy "debrief with the bishops" meeting Saturday morning and mother's angst over my son's departure this week for deployment to Kuwait with his U.S. Army unit I ditched it all and dug out the silver polish.

And an hour later the sermon still wasn't written, the Anglican Communion was still a mess and Jamie was still packing his duffle bag but by God, I had shiny candlesticks. And picture frames. And fruit bowls, tea trays and serving bowls. And I thought how amazing it was that those dull, gray, dusty bits of metal that had been sitting there doing nothing-in-particular an hour before were now gleaming in the afternoon sun on the sideboard. And what it had taken was a little time, a littel elbow grease, a little silver polish and a little faith that under all that tarnish was something worth the effort.

Maybe that's the lesson ... whether you have silver to polish or not. That underneath all the tarnish of our broken relationships, hurt feelings and failed initiatives -- foreign AND domestic -- there is stuff worth saving ... worth nurturing ... worth restoring: in this church, in this communion, in this country. It's worth a try.

And if I'm wrong, well -- at least the silver is polished.


vicki said...

I salute both you and your son for your sacrifice and patriotism

Bruno said...

put on list,,,
get some silver,, or borrow some.

Bruno said...

oh by the way,,,
Your sermon,, was EXACTLY what I needed to hear yesterday,,
Thank you

RudigerVT said...

In the terrific Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral , Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays explain the silver-polishing thing:

Southern ladies have a thing about polishing silver. We'd be hard pressed to tell you how many of our friends and their mothers have greeted the sad news of a death in the family by going straight to the silver chest and starting to polish everything inside.

Later, after many digressions on southern funeral food (with piquant observations about Methodists, who make things only from canned ingredients, and Episcopalians, who make nothing out of cans but secretly crave the low brow "funeral goo) there's a tidy treatise on The Big Issues:

Attention to detail and borrowed silver are key to its success. The committee rolls "Big Brown," the table, out into the parish hall, drapes it with a damask tablecloth, and puts a large silver coffee urn and tea service at one end and a large silver tray of goodies at the other....Compotes on both sides of the table are filled with nuts. On the table are cheese straws; two cakes, each on a silver stand; and neat little squares of fudge cake..A silver pitcher (borrowed, of course) sits on a special table for water drinkers. The table setup, if not the food, reflects an important article of the Episcopal credo: you can't be too thin or have too much silver.

revsusan said...

rudigervt ... I am ROLLING ON THE FLOOR ... and going directly to to order "Being Dead ..." -- obviously something I need to add to library as it is clearly about people I'm related to

Catherine + said...

Bruno, try a few yard sales and second hand will find it well-disguised as junk, and affordable too!

We are praying for Jamie and all our men and women, in combat and in the wings, Susan+. Be assured he is lifted up to God.


Jim Strader said...

I find that yoga and a healthy spinning class at 6:00 a.m. three/four times weekly helps! Yes, I realize I'm demonstrating some economic middle class white privilege ... And it's worth the $30.00 some odd dollars a month for me to strive to stay balanced physically, mentally, and spiritually.

We can't tend to the needs of others if we haven't tended to our own, can we? Good for you Susan! God's Grace and peace upon your son, your family and you as he departs towards his military assignment. May God watch over him and the thousands upon thousands of lives that this unjust war impacts each day.