Whiter Than Snow
Not the song, but the verse from King David’s plea: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)
There are places in the world today that still know the ritual of wash day as I knew it as a child. They perhaps have it more primitive than I did. One thing is for certain, wash day in a spiritual sense is as easy as admitting one’s sinful condition, asking for forgiveness by faith in the price paid on Calvary, and accepting the gift of salvation. It is as Ephesians 2:8 expresses it: “for by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works lest any man should boast.”
My mom told me that when I was a baby, she scrubbed the family laundry, including my diapers, on a washboard. Then the happy day came when my dad bought her a wringer washing machine. She recalls that it cost $35 (a lot of money in 1946). I remember that old Maytag washing machine. We didn’t have electricity running past our farmhouse until I was ten years old. The machine was powered with a Briggs and Stratton gas engine. She would get the machine filled with boiling water which she heated on a wood stove—yes, even in the summer—and Dad would start the engine for her just the same as we start a push lawn mower today. While the first load, all whites, was washing, Mom and I filled the rinse tubs with warm water. The washer had a wringer with rollers the clothes passed between. Once in a while a shirt or sheet would get a bubble in it and it would squirt water all over the place! After the last rinse, the clothes landed in a bushel peach basket. One of my jobs was watching the basket so that no clean clothes fell on the floor (or ground). Oh what a happy day it was when Mom began to let me feed the clothes through the wringer!
It took great coordination to keep things moving smoothly. What would get behind was hanging the clothes out on the lines to dry. I was about nine or ten years old when that job became mine. I was too short to reach the lines and used a potato box to stand on. In mercy and sensibility, Mom always hung the sheets. By that time Mom upgraded to an electric washing machine and we could use the kitchen as a laundry room instead of doing it outside. We also had a gas stove on which to heat the water. We still used a Briggs & Stratton engine to pump the water and my grandfather usually carried it into the house. Everyone had a part in doing laundry. We did use the windmill to pump the water for the stock tank.
Someday we will talk about ironing. That was the last step. You know what? I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for a million dollars. There is nothing like growing up in a close-knit family on the family farm in central Wisconsin. Yes, Wisconsin—where the winters are long and frigid. Do I enjoy my automatic washer and dryer? You betcha! (That is an upper-Midwest term, by the way.)
I am washed, and Jesus can come and get me just anytime, and I will be part of that “glorious church, without spot or wrinkle.” (Ephesians 5:27)