The towel had frayed edges and a splotch of lasagna on one corner, but it changed my outlook – and my closets — forever.
It was my turn that day to deliver donations to Unity House –apartments housing women who had recently come through drug detox. Most were setting up housekeeping from scratch and lacked basic supplies. It felt like Christmas morning instead of a July afternoon as they sorted with cries of joy through the clothes and dishes the church had given.
The faded blue towel wasn’t really a donation. It had ridden to church underneath a pan of lasagna for fellowship dinner that day and had been brought in by mistake.
“Mary,” one of the women called. “Here’s a towel for you.”
Mary, a new resident at Unity House, dashed forward and took the towel with eager hands.
“Thank you,” she said. “It was so awful this morning. I wanted to take a shower, but I didn’t have a towel and no one had one to spare.” She caressed the towel as if it were made of gold thread instead of terrycloth.
I thought with shame of my linen closet — so full that towels fell out on my head when I opened the door. Every closet was the same, stuffed to overflowing. I thought it was good stewardship to keep things in case I should ever need them again. But why should I stash things away when these women needed them right now?
I went home and cleaned out the linen closet. Then I moved on to my clothes closets and kitchen cabinets. Perfectly good items I hadn’t used in years came to light. Some of it I didn’t even recognize. It took three trips to get everything to Unity House.
When I finished, my closets were beautiful. Best of all, my packrat tendencies were exterminated forever. When I’m tempted to buy something because it’s on sale, I think of Mary and her joy over my accidental gift. The bargains usually find their way to Unity House instead of to my closets.
God has blessed me so abundantly. Now I know why — so I can share. Good stewardship doesn’t lie in stashing and saving, but in giving.
A big lesson from a frayed towel spotted with lasagna!