Whited Wool

We can be made clean. Photo by Skitterphoto.

Doing laundry is such a chore.
Sort the colors? I ask what for?
Then throwing whites with red and green,
I toss them all in the wash-machine.
But all my smugness turns to dread
When all the whites go tie-dye red!

Then staring, wondering what to do,
The laundry stained a scarlet hue,
All at once to my surprise
I catch a glimpse with inward eyes;
An ancient prophet, in ancient land
With crimson cloth and quill in hand.

The wool, he knew, with crimson dye,
Would not wash white, though he try;
‘Twas colorful and colorfast,
Its crimson hue would ever last.
For cloth once soaked in scarlet stain—
Scarlet forever will remain.

And each of us with souls so bright,
Soon discover our mortal plight;
For into sin we step and sink,
While what was white turns shades of pink.
And then just like my laundry mess,
Our souls are soaked in scarlet-ness.

And in alarm we wail and cry;
We soap and scrub that scarlet dye.
We want our whited souls again,
But all we get is crimson sin.
And what we know of scarlet stain—
For all eternity it shall remain.

Yet, through our anguish there was one,
Whose love did what could not be done;
Who cried and shook with godly pain,
To wash away our crimson stain;
Who bled to pay our debt in full—
Blood enough to white the wool.

Doing laundry.  It’s a necessary evil, I know that.  Unlike ironing, which, as we all know, is an unnecessary evil and why I don’t do that!  But back to laundry.  Because I hate it, I try to make it as painless as possible.  Growing up my mom did the whole sort-the-clothes-by-color thing.  She would have a pile of whites, reds, blues, you get the picture.  I admire that kind of organization.  Me?  I don’t have the patience for it.  Besides, I’m a bachelor of one and don’t have enough laundry each week to have a whole load for each color of the rainbow.  Nope, I throw everything together.  Like I said, as painless as possible.

Of course, I’m not entirely reckless.  There are some fundamental laundry laws that must be followed.  Any new, vibrant color of clothing, like red or blue, must be washed a few times separate from the light colors.  Don’t ask me how I know this, just trust me.  Also, you don’t want the wet colors sitting too long after the spin cycle all bunched up together.  Sometimes those vibrant colors still bleed a little.  Again, don’t ask me how I know. . . .

I was noticing the other day that my white clothes were looking a little dingy and grey.  Not as bright as I thought they should be.  At the store, I picked up a different kind of laundry soap that said it would “brighten whites.”  After presoaking the whites in the new detergent as directed, I followed my standard practice of throwing all the colors together and set the ol’ washer to work.

Disaster!  The new detergent caused the vibrant colors to bleed.  Upon inspection, my previously white Sunday shirt looked like it had been tie-dyed!  In panicked desperation, I separated all the whites and ran them through another wash cycle with more of that fancy new detergent.  Luckily, the miracle soap lived up to its claim with most everything coming out white again—perhaps with the faintest of blueish hue.

This experience caused me significant contemplation.  When I first discovered the multicolored whites, instantly my mind went to the talk given by Sharon Eubank titled, “Christ: The Light That Shines in Darkness” (General Conference, April 2019).  In it, she describes dyeing cloth in ancient times.  She talks about the scarlet color being permanent.  I remembered writing a note to myself at the time for a future poem about the crimson dye: “it’s colorful and colorfast, that means its color will ever last.”  Sorting the laundry, I thought the time to write had come.

My initial intent was to come up with something playful and self-depreciating about my mistake.  I even had the title, “Bachelors Blunder”.  However, the next morning I awoke with different thoughts in my head.  I could not shake the power of Isaiah’s imagery, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).  He must have known the permanence of crimson dye.  Wool dyed red would forever red be.  But he also knew the power of Christ’s atonement.  He knew, as must you and I, that through the grace of Christ, the impossible is possible:

That souls once soaked in stain of sin,
Can be washed to white again.

Written: September 28, 2019

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