Over the last several months a sweet russian "Baba" from our church kept asking me (through my husband who speaks russian) if she could come over and help with whatever I needed help doing. With the exception of a few meals, I've never had help in my home-except from my wonderful husband.
Nonetheless, I could never think of things I wanted this woman to do for me. Of course, the laundry has almost touched our 8' ceiling at times. And I won't publicly talk about the sorry state my kitchen has been in at times, o.k., most of the time. However, I could never imagine someone coming in and cleaning for me.
I remember years ago when I was finishing up my Bachelors degree, I was working about three jobs to make ends meet, plus taking classes. It was a Saturday morning and there was a baptism at my church. I was exhausted, frazzled and late getting out the door and, therefore, sped to church. I got a ticket on the way.
I arrived at the baptism on time, but really bummed. Money was really tight for me at that time and I was fretting about the fine. A few fellow parishioners and I started talking and I shared my bad luck from earlier that morning. After the conversation broke and I was on my way out the door, one friend took me aside and offered me a $100.00 bill to cover the cost of my ticket. I kindly refused his offer, even after his insisting that I take it several times. I excused myself and hurried out the door to go to my job. An older and wiser parishioner followed me out and bid me farewell with a few extra words. He told me it was not a wise decision for me to have declined the man's offer. He then, kindly but firmly told me that a blessing goes two ways: the person who receives and the person who gives. He never called me foolish for not taking the money, but rather said I should learn to pray before I speak. That I should learn to think of the other man before myself.
Now, we all know that that man's blessing was not contingent upon my taking the money. The love for his neighbor was indeed blessed, I believe. But I spent the rest of the day thinking about those parting words of my friend, realizing that I had never really thought about blessings in that way.
After hearing her countless pleas to come and help, Fr. Justin finally told her to just come over Tuesday at 9:00a.m. So, Tuesday morning she showed up to work. For the first few minutes I couldn't think of what to tell her to do.
I would think, "Oh, she can clean the bathroom, no, no, not the bathroom!" "She can clean the kitchen, no, no, not the kitchen!" So, after spending a moment or two mumbling about not having much for her to do (lol!), she just made that sweet little russian noise that Baba's make when they are trying to hush crying babies and shooed me away.
Well, I'll just say that it was a great joy having her here. Oh sure, my house had never been so clean. Seriously, Fr. walked up the stairs and took a deep breath and I'm sure wondered what that smell was (cleaning supplies). He's far too kind to make a comment. But I saw him take that deep breath. ;)
She buzzed around our house for about three hours. Cleaning this, cleaning that, talking russian to the girls, smiling.
Oh I'm so glad she came. Of course, I loved the clean house. But what I really loved was her presence. Her sweet spirit. The way she raised her glasses to get a closer look at something. Her exchange with Katya as she would try to communicate. The way she mumbled to herself. The way she scurried around peeking and cleaning and feeling useful.
She melted my heart when she made it to the girls room (I'm sure no explanation is needed here about the condition of their room) and she just said "Krasiva! Krasiva!" As she flickered her fingers through the sunlight to help me understand what she was talking about. It's true, the girl's room has beautiful natural light throughout the day. But it had been so long since I had noticed it. It seems like the only thing I can see when I walk in there is the mess. Sad, but true.
She showed up, unannounced, later in the week. She just came upstairs, smiling and mumbling and started fiddling around. She cleaned, folded a load of laundry. She spent an hour with Katya on her russian lessons, she went downstairs and cleaned the church. I followed her around for a minute trying to tell her that she didn't need to come and clean so much. That she could just sit and have a cup of tea. "Uh-huh, uh-huh, da, da, da...", She mumbled as she scooted past me.
There would have been a time when I would have seen this as an inconvenience-someone stopping by unannounced. But when she left on Thursday, her only words to me were "This is good." "Yes" I said, "This is good."
One soul just wanting other souls to be with, to help, to serve. What a blessing. What a joy. What a reminder.
Her help has been immeasurable. I cannot express how blessed I feel to have her help. But even if she never cleaned again, I would still love having her just come by for a cup of tea and to just be here. The girls love her and I simply adore watching Katya trying to get perfect english out of her. I giggle when I see this little russian woman lifting her glasses and squinting close up to Katya's mouth to see how the heck she's pronouncing a word.
I'm so glad I finally said yes. Well, I'm so glad my husband finally said yes for me. After fifteen years I think I've finally realized that a blessing does indeed go two ways. Now, praying before I speak. I'm still working on that one.