On ironing. And love.

Ironing is an activity that seems avoidable.

Clothing is designed to be wash and wear. But it often still needs to be touched up.

Ironing is an activity that seems futile.

Clothing is smooth only until it is worn, at which point it is wrinkled again.

And yet, Nancy irons my work khakis and dress shirts and her blouses, slacks and skirts. Three outfits a week for me, even during the pandemic, because chaplains are essential. Dress outfits again for her, because although she is essential to the choir, going to the office wasn’t.

This has been happening for decades, this ironing for both of us, once a week or so.

It’s part of love one another.

I’m not arguing that it must be part of everyone’s love one another. That TV movie urge to create categories of love one another may create warm feelings, but it’s mostly a lie. Across time, through normal use, clothing and furniture and hands acquire wrinkles. Different people, different relationships, learn ways to address the wrinkles, smoothing some, accepting others, celebrating the stories that led to still others.

The command from Jesus is not to iron clothes, nor is it to worry about wearing your Sunday best. The command from Jesus is not to tally up responsibilities and split them evenly.

The command from Jesus is much simpler.

“If you love me,” Jesus says, “If you want to do something that you know would delight me, that you know would make me smile, that you know would let me know that you are thinking about me, keep my commands.”

It’s phrased this way because, of course, love involves action as well as words. It involves choices of the use of irretrievable time. Then he goes on.

“And here is my command. Love one another. In your actions toward others, in your offering what you know how to do for the encouragement and help and well-being of others, that will be counted as love for me.”

Weekly mowing, weekly ironing, daily coffee, daily meals, uncomplaining mask-wearing, compassionate tear-shedding, willing party-attending, attentive listening, foot-rubbing (not washing) – all these can be part of the simple-living loving of Jesus, as much as praying every morning at a particular time or reading a million verses a week. Because the command isn’t to be flashy. The command is to love.

Pie-making. That, on the other hand, is an extravagance.

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First published in June of 2020.

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