—Proverbs 6:10 (NIV)
My German grandmother holds the wicker laundry basket brimming with linen sheets and pillowcases as if embracing a child still in the womb. Without grasping the railings, she descends the steep back staircase from her upper flat, slowly, carefully, left foot, right foot, until she reaches the bottom. There, she props the basket between her stomach and the door. With one hand, her crippled fingers turn the latch counterclockwise and then the doorknob. Lacy edgings spill over the sides of the basket like snow slowly melting and hanging precariously from the eaves. She pushes the door open with her foot. April slips in, aching to rise up the stairs, enter the apartment, and devour the stale, leftover scents of winter. Grandmother steps outside. She sets the basket down and lifts up the worn, gray, cellar doors. Her right hand searches her apron pocket for the old, silver key. She finds it, picks up the basket, three steps down, cement this time, she unlocks and opens the basement door.
An old wringer washing machine sets in the corner next to Lower-Flat-Daughter-in-Law’s “modern” washer and dryer. Casters scrape against concrete as Grandmother rolls the machine next to the sturdy double rinsing tubs. She fills the tubs and the machine with hot water, empties the basket into one vat of the steaming liquid, adds detergent to the machine. She passes the soaked sheets and pillowcases through the wringer and into the old Maytag, then turns it on. The machine rocks gently, agitating the load, washing away seven nights of sleep. A quarter of an hour later, Grandmother stops the machine. She slips each piece of material back through the wringer and into the rinse water. Then, with a wooden broom handle, she swirls the bedding hard through the rinse. Once again, she slides the sheets and pillowcases through the wringer. She loads them into the wicker basket, tosses in a canvas bag filled with wooden clothespins, then goes outside where Daughter-in Law is cleaning the flower beds, admiring tiny green shoots sticking up through the soil. “Mother,” she says. “I wish you would use my washing machine and dryer. The way you do it takes so much extra work.”
The cool side of the pillow—that amazing sensation of soft, cool linen against your skin. There is something about it that ushers in a sense of peace and wellness with the world. It promotes a fullness of soul and gentle, restful sleep. But, as Grandmother said, a little elbow grease is needed to get that linen smelling fresh and to make it feel clean and new.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV) Have you ever thought that Jesus is the cool side of the pillow? The more work we put into our relationships with Him, the more restful our dark nights become. Many of us tend to take our problems to our beds. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we have the option of flipping our pillows over to the cool side, the Jesus side, to find instant refreshment?