Monday, August 21, 2006

Episode 11 - Ink, the gift that keeps on giving...

When last we saw Barbara, she had just discovered the joys and pitfalls of dollar store shopping. Barbara had already bought large quantities of things to use in her workshops but she had finally managed to bring her spending under control. The sight of a dollar store still made Barbara's heart leap, but she had managed to drive by her favorite one yesterday, even though she had longed to go in, just to see what was new.

But Barbara wasn't thinking about dollar stores this morning. She was tired after a long night of stamping. Barbara had decided to hold a stamp camp next month and she was experimenting with all kinds of different projects for the make and take projects. Stamping on tiles with Stayzon had been a hot topic on the Tips & Techniques conference on Stampin' Discuss, so Barbara had gone down to the home improvement store and bought a box full.

She hadn't noticed how late it had gotten, had not even noticed when Brad went to bed, she was so absorbed in her projects. When she had finally decided to stop, she found she had red Stayzon all over her hands. "What a pity it didn't look this red on the tiles!" she said to herself. But washing her hands would not remove the tenacious ink and it had been too late to get some solvent cleaner from the craft store.

Barbara could not go this morning either, as it was not only Sunday, but Easter Sunday as well. As a lay reader at her Episcopal church, St. Timothy's, she had been appointed to be the chalice bearer at the Eucharist at 10:30 AM. Barbara hurried to get dressed, not that anybody got to see what she had on under the robe she wore! She washed her hands yet again, but the ink wasn't budging.

During the service, Barbara sat during the sermon and tried to fix her mind on the Easter message. But her mind kept straying to her business, no matter how hard she tried to think about what Father Herbert was saying. Barbara had found, now that she was a lay reader, that much of the service's beauty was lost to her. She found herself preoccupied with what was going on, who was doing what, and what her part would be. Barbara mused, "It must be like doing workshops...once you are used to it you stop worrying about making mistakes and start having fun." Not that fun was the point of church, but she missed the quiet enjoyment she used to experience.

When it was finally time for communion, Barbara took the cup from Father Herbert carefully. Because it was Easter, the church was full and so was the chalice. Barbara followed Father Herbert, careful to let him get to the third person before she started offering the cup to the first one. People who took communion were, as Father Herbert had jocularly told her, either "sippers, dippers, or like-it-on-the-lippers." Barbara appreciated the people who dipped their own wafer; she did not like being responsible for drops of wine dripping off the host onto someone's white blouse, as had once happened. She really didn't care to place the host in someone's mouth, either, as sometimes she ended up touching their lips, and once, to her dismay, someone's tongue!

Barbara noticed that the people taking the host in their mouths were looking at her hands rather strangely. "I guess they do look sort of...bloody." she mused, "Just like I'd killed a chicken or something!"

"Mommy! Mommy! That lady, she got blood all over her hands! Is there blood in that cup?!?! I don't wanna drink blood! Aaaahhhhhh!!!" As the small child was born by his mother wailing from the nave and into the narthex, Barbara stood, aghast, her face almost as red as her hands! Father Herbert was moving rapidly along the line of communicants; Barbara quickly calmed herself and began again. It would never do to let him get too far ahead.

"Kiss off!", the woman at the corner of the altar rail whispered. Barbara stopped, startled. Was this woman insulting her? She only knew this woman, Wendy Martin, by sight. Wendy was on the vestry, the committee that ran the church. "What did you say?" Barbara whispered back.
"I said, 'K*ss-*ff'; it's a cleaner. You can get it at the craft store. It will take that red ink off of your hands!" Wendy smiled at Barbara and gave her a wink. She dipped her wafer herself, crossed herself and went back to her pew.

Barbara moved down the line of communicants, resolving to send Wendy a special invitation to her stamp camp, her heart finally open to the message of redemption that Easter offers us all.
Will Barbara get the ink off of her hands? Will Wendy come to her stamp camp? Will the little boy suffer from a life-long trauma of seeing Barbara's inky hands? The journey of life is sometimes jagged and sharp, but it only prepares us for the beauty ahead....on The Tearing Edge.

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