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Spirit of Protection

by Terri Mork Speirs

This is a story about bathing a baby boy in the kitchen sink.

Pudgy, pink, and sitting in the suds, the 5-month-old child, seems to have no idea of the chaos and clutter around him. This happened 14 years ago, but we have a photograph of the scene. He is in one basin, dirty dishes in the other, and there is a collection of unclean baby bottles and plastic nipples on the window shelf above.

A tiny turkey baster that is actually a child’s medication applicator lies next to what looks like a jar of rhubarb jam, and what is obviously a potted cactus. It seems odd for a thorny plant to sit amidst baby. We evidently didn’t notice at the time. Unused kitchen utensils, spoons and spatulas, are neatly nestled in a white porcelain container to the side. It looks like there was a lot of eating in this kitchen, but only a little actual cooking.

The wall paper is old. If this kitchen still had walls glued with stale Civil-War-era flower patterns, it’s no wonder it had no modern dishwasher. It was probably the only house in that working class suburb in Baltimore that didn’t have one.

There is a mound of dirty plates, bowls, and cups; and one dirty baby. Looking out the window over the sink, it is pitch black night. It was probably 7 p.m. or so in the season of Advent, when daylight falls early and darkness rises fast. The sun had already long set before I got home from work that day.

This is a story about fatigue.

Terri Mork Speirs is a writer in Des Moines, Iowa, where she lives with her two teenagers and husband, Bob, who is associate pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. They are proud co-owners of a 2013 model, two-cycle dishwasher. Her website is www.terrimorkspeirs.blogspot.com.

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