Common grace and Clorox wipes.

When I went to take the Praxis, the woman next to me pulled out her water bottle (not allowed) and her hand sanitizer (not allowed) and, honest to God, a box of Clorox wipes (definitely not allowed). I didn’t have a lot to do while we were waiting to start the Praxis. So I watched her. Wipe down the desk. And then her pencils. And then her face. With the same wipe she had just used on the desk. And then she did it all again. Including the part where she wiped her face. And then one more time. That last time, she kept wiping her face. A lot. In fact, she wiped her face constantly as we took the test. Two hours of wiping her face. With a used Clorox wipe. True story. It probably would have been interesting to see MY face during these activities. And it’s a wonder I passed – she was very distracting.

Before the test started, she offered me a wet wipe and some hand sanitizer. I had just gone to the bathroom (and washed my hands), so I turned her down. She continued her cleaning and then turned to me and said, “Are you sure? It’s really germy in here.” What are you supposed to say in those sorts of situations? I just smiled and said, “I’m good, thanks!” And cursed the lady who assigned our seats, because I had to stay where I was. I pulled out my book (not allowed) while I was waiting for us to get started just to have something to do other than gawk at her.

I had forgotten this story entirely until last Thursday. My class is in the same building in which I took the Praxis, and I happened to walk by that room while we were having our break (I was looking for a place to have my complete and total meltdown away from my classmates . . . although I seriously doubt any of them would actually have noticed, since I am ten years older, the only one actually working in a school, and sit by myself). It all came screaming back to me: her incessant face-wiping, my complete bewilderment. I grinned a little bit, and that memory gave me the wherewithal to pull it together for that last hour and a half of class before I could go home. I would not have thought it at the time, but in the middle of a difficult day, I think that the germaphobe lady and her Clorox wipes might actually have counted as an act of common grace for me.

It’s too bad that grace is so beautifully messy, down in the dirt with us – it makes me feel bad for getting her involved. I hope it’s the kind of mess she can appreciate – the kind that reminds us of the goodness and beauty and humor of our lives.

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