Today our family took some time to delight in the details of some very fine old items. We visited an antique mall that we had never been to before and were overwhelmed with the variety and abundance of items for sale. Generally we 'shop' at smaller local stores, and since we enjoy their existance in our small town, if we are to make a purchase, it is there. This establishment was overwhelming! We really enjoyed looking at the fine craftsmanship of beautiful solid old furniture and lovely glassware. I am a little reluctant now to use our favorite cookie plate, knowing it's value at an antique store, but as it brings my family joy, I will use it - perhaps washing it more carefully! The same is true of our salt and pepper shakers - who knew they could be worth so much today?
The Dreamer and I spent the much time in the linens booths and we were quite taken with handsewn petticoats, chemises, day dresses, fabulous millinery and all of the beautiful handwork on various linens for the home. We were especially thrilled with the aprons, and one in particular. Completely handsewn of fine dotted swiss, it was a work of art. Tiny tucks and pleats, 1/8 " french seams throughout and yards of gathers. Ruffles and entredeux, fine white on white embroideries, all handsewn with the tiniest stitches I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Unlike many of the items in that booth, the price reflected the workmanship, and so it remains tucked away in a corner of the huge antiques store. I was quite certain that the seller priced the apron high so that she would not have to part with it! We couldn't help but think of the woman who laboured to produce such a fine item. We wondered if she made it for her hope chest, if it was her 'company' apron, or perhaps a wonderful gift from a mother to her precious daughter. I wondered if she worked on the apron on cold winter nights by lamplight, or if she sat out under a tree in the heat of summer stitching with her sisters and sipping cool lemonade. Our daughter is just learning to sew, but even she recognized the specialness of this apron.
It made me think of my own workmanship. Years ago, when I was struggling with sloppy penmanship, my mother asked me to memorize a verse in Colossians 3:23-24
Do your work willingly, as though you were serving the Lord himself, and not just your earthly master.
In fact, the Lord Christ is the one you are really serving, and you know that he will reward you.
She made me understand that I wasn't working just to please my teacher, but the Lord. It is a verse I have encouraged our children to learn. These days I find that we don't always have time for excellence or doing things well - we are too in a hurry to get things done so we can move on to something else. An apron is just an apron until it is done beauifully, and with care. Any chore can be done 'as though I were serving the Lord himself', or not. The memory of that apron will encourage me to slow down and do things well, not just because I am serving my family, but because in doing so I am serving my Lord.