by Mary Lou Logsdon
I dig through the everything-else-drawer in the kitchen, the place for all the tools and gadgets that don’t belong in the silverware drawer or the towel drawer or the storage container drawer. Here I find tools to scrape, open, slice, strain, crack, zest, and peel. You get the idea. No doubt your kitchen has such a drawer as well.
Attempts to fit shallow, rectangular boxes in the empty drawer, like puzzle pieces, so as to organize the ungainly collection, are only temporarily successful. It is here I find the wood-handled spatula with the thin metal face I kept when our family home was emptied. The tool was built before World War II, prior to the stainless steel era; hence, it frequently needs a good scrubbing followed by oiling to keep the rust at bay. The handle’s paint is long gone, and only a pale patina of green and blue remains. It is my favorite tool for sliding under over-easy eggs, removing delicate Christmas cookies, and loosening a thin crepe.
Other artifacts live in this drawer: a tin measuring spoon with its size unreadable–I know it is 1 teaspoon. There is the Ginsu knife from the state fair that really will cut through anything. It is used in the garage nearly as often as the kitchen! A basic bottle opener from a sightseeing trip to San Diego pre-interstate.
I notice that all these simple devices remain quite useful even as much of the world has changed. Several of these tools share their manufacture date with the Selectric Typewriter, the 10-key adding machine and the slide rule, all tools significantly more expensive at the time and long ago relegated to the junk heap.
As I use my special spatula to remove a batch of sea salt chocolate chip cookies, I consider my spiritual artifacts, the ones stashed in the hanky drawer of my vintage dresser (my pair of hankies don’t require a whole drawer). I have Holy Cards lined in gold with a picture of a saint and her corresponding prayer. There is the spiritual bouquet I gave my Mother when I was in in 4th grade. I think I’m still on the hook for a few more Hail Marys. My First Communion prayer book has all the prayers I memorized during my eight years of Catholic education. I keep these because I cannot discard them, responding to their sentimental value over their religious significance.
There are other spiritual traditions that carry vestiges of my early faith development that I do find helpful, just like my old spatula. There is The Lord’s Prayer, its recitation crossing all Christian denominations. This prayer was the last coherent set of words my memory-lost father said as he fell deeper into his Alzheimer’s. There is the teaching of the Communion of Saints which is so peace-filled as I remember my loved ones who have died yet whose presence remains so real. There is the Bless Us O Lord that I still pray before meals, never having outgrown the need to say thank you.
These remnants of my childhood faith are treasures I appreciate in this, my seventh decade. Not all my religious training has remained helpful. There are pieces I long ago discarded, but like my kitchen’s everything-else-drawer, I have spiritual practices I’ve kept that continue to have a place in my sacred space. Like my wood-handled spatula, I tenderly care for them, hoping to pass them on and into the next generations.
Mary Lou Logsdon is a Sacred Ground Spiritual Director and an instructor in the Sacred Ground Spiritual Direction Formation Program. She is available to lead retreats or days of reflection. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-583-1802.