It takes three clothespins to hang up a bath towel; two for hand towels; one for a cloth napkin.
And of those six clothespins, there are many stories. One may have water spots (or mildew) on it from being left on the line in the rain. Another looks almost new, perhaps being left in the bottom of the bag most times, hardly even given the chance to see sunlight. All of them, though, were used for many years, clipped onto bedsheets, towels, and my grandpa's socks.
My Nana's hands used these clothespins for as long as I can remember, where sometimes my brother's or my hands helped pin the bedsheets onto the line. We all knew there was nothing like the fresh scent of sun-dried bedsheets. We'd sometimes send these same pins flying off the clothesline as we ran through the sheets, occasionally bringing them down on top of us.
On this day, as I take the towels and sheets down from the clothesline, I think, "Gosh, maybe I should supplement these clothespins with some new ones, some fresh ones." And they would get the job done.
But then I think of all the stories I'd miss out on remembering each time I walk outside with a hamper full of wet sheets. I think of how long it takes to carefully hang things up to dry, which in turn offers much time to feel the wind, to see the cat creeping after a critter in the back yard.
And it makes me think that it's a little like liturgy. We come up with new things - songs, responsive readings, and the like - and they "get the job done". But when I turn to page 12 in the United Methodist Hymnal; pray the Lord's prayer; recite the Apostles' Creed with a room full of people I may or may not know personally; I think of those who have gone before.
I remember the disciples asking Jesus, "teach us how to pray". And I pray with them.
When doubt is creeping in, I say the Apostles' Creed and remember the millions who believe this with (and for) me. And I say it with them.
Today, I "recited" the clothespin liturgy, remembering those who have gone before in my family, roads walked, stories told, children running through the fresh sheets as they blew in the wind. I need these stories just as I need the clothespins to keep my garments on the line.
This is my clothespin liturgy.