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The Healing Shelf


Plunging my hands into the basin of warm, soapy water, I settle in for a few moments of quiet. The kitchen sink often becomes my alter, where I wash away my worries and bring my praises and my heart before the Lord. Sometimes, I use my time there as a great thinking session. It’s a place where I can mull over and ponder the troubles of the world, often questioning my life's purposes and weighing them out against my expectations, doubts and goals. Sometimes I simply daydream, where I build elaborate gardens with grand pathways and delightful wildflower meadows, or open up bakeries with the tastiest of treats, warm beverages and cute, little wrought iron tables and chairs.  

 Glancing up at the window sill, I smile and greet the line up of  colorful, little jars, each filled with various sorts of living things that need some encouragement or extra love. A pink peony bud that toppled over in the rain was brought in yesterday, and now pokes its head out of an old, glass medicine bottle. Rosemary, in a gleaming, cobalt - blue container happily basks in the sun as pale new roots form and spiral around inside its vessel. A small, emerald-colored glass vase, with it’s long neck and little handle, perfectly mimics the sprig of dill, gracefully leaning out the top, brilliantly showing off its head of tiny, chartusse flowers about to form seeds. The morning sun streams into the window from the east, where it meets the little row of jars, and paints color onto the wall behind me.

 My little home has loved over a hundred years worth of of families, and I have often wondered what items have lined this window sill as others have stood at their alter contemplating their lives. Perhaps a wedding ring sat safely as a tired wife washed up her evening dishes by candle light. Maybe diaper pins or a bar of soap sat with-in handy reach while a new mama bathed her sweet smelling little boy at the sink. Screwdrivers and nails may have been saved there for quick repairs, or a thimble and button to be sewn on a worn, thread-barren, calico dress. I call the window sill  ‘the healing shelf’, for it's the place where I bring flowers and herbs to be nurtured and loved. A place for rest and warmth, light and care. A spot for restoration and renewal. Or in the case of my broken peony, a hospice.  A place to live out its final days with as much glory and admiration as possible.

 As I quietly wash the morning coffee cups, I’m reminded of my own season of healing this past year. Oh the embarrassment of having someone care for me!  The burden I imagined I had placed on others! The feelings of worthlessness as I imposed on loved ones for my basic needs. It wasn’t until much contemplation and the last coffee cup washed that I realized how much joy I receive from loving on these little, weary, plants. The pride in tending to them and nurturing them back to health, so gratifying. It has been such a pleasure to watch each one fulfill its own purpose. Some would grow new roots, others would set seed, completing its own cycle of creating new flowers next year. Some just needed a little haven of protection to become stronger and ready to face the harsh environment of living outdoors. Others, like the little peony bud knocked down by the storm, would only have a week to live out its life, but I would  be there to speak love over it every time I passed by; admiring and adoring it as it bloomed, displayed its beauty, then faded quietly away. I began to think, “What if there was a healing shelf for people?”


Sometimes we are called to a season of rest, a season of healing. Sometimes, we just need a little time in the light, other times we need to bask in the warmth of a comforting hand. Often, It’s a necessity to be nurtured, loved, and tenderly mended; a  gracious restoration of our mind, body and soul. As I dried and put that last cup away, a thought occurred to me for the first time.  I wondered if maybe the ones I worried so much about burdening actually took pleasure in being able to care for me? Sometimes, I think, my stubbornness and pride can ultimately rob others of their need to love and nurture.


Recently, some of the strongest bonds were born out of my deepest need to be cared for. The immense respect and admiration that grew toward my husband as he welded his heart to mine, setting everything aside to pray over me and serve me without rest or regard for his own needs. The iron-clad, unbreakable bonds, forged and fabricated from the compassion each of my children poured out over me during my illness and recovery. The fusion between hearts and souls as sisters, brothers, and friends stepped in while I was at my lowest, with no rules or judgements,  giving me a platform to speak, even if it was only angry shouts of frustration while relearning to walk , or wails of ugly tears. The profound tenderness, that covenant of protection and allegiance cultivated from the hours my Dad spent with me, telling me stories of yesteryear, or surprising me with little treats. The deepest connections of the heart are often made during the most difficult, most painful, times in our lives. 

Whether we are called into a season of rest and healing, or whether we are called to hold someone’s hand with affirming words of hope, there are always opportunities to augment the experiences in our lives that ultimately enhances our relationships with those around us. Let us stand at the kitchen sink, our own alters, and look for the healing shelves. Are we tending to them? Or resting upon them? If you are the one tending the shelf, go forth with confidence, gentleness and kindness, knowing the impact of your selflessness might forever change a person's life. If you are dwelling on the healing shelf, give yourself permission to linger there a while. It’s hard, I know. It’s so engrained in us to take care of ourselves and not ask for help, but restoration can be a slow, agonizing process.  Growing healthy new roots can take longer than you ever imagined, but resting and allowing yourself to experience sweet, gentle acts of kindness, might be the balm that heals the deepest of wounds that have not only penetrated the body but the soul also.


  1. I so love the pictures your words and thoughts form in my mind everytime I read your blog. You always cause me to slow down and ponder how your stories relate to my own life stories. As always, thanks for sharing and inspiring. To all of our own healing shelves. Whether we are the attendees, or the attendants!


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