My old wooden spoon, with its newer, unused cousin

Do you have a favourite cooking utensil? One you keep returning to even though you may have a newer, better replacement for it?

I do. It’s an old wooden spoon that’s been used by my family for decades. In fact, it’s probably older than I am (I won’t tell you my exact age, but let’s just say that I remember Watergate. Enough said).

Almost a foot long, this old mixing spoon certainly shows its age. The “bowl” part of the spoon is stained dark from years of contact with heat and food. The bottom curve isn’t even perfectly round anymore; the wood on one side has been worn away from decades of stirring by right-handed cooks. One side of the handle has been chipped away from being habitually tapped against the edge of a pot or bowl to loosen bits of sauce or batter.

It’s stained, asymmetrical, and looks the worse for wear. So why don’t I throw it out?

Because it’s proven itself with decades of faithful service. It’s imperfections give it character. It’s also quiet; it doesn’t make scraping sounds when touching the sides of a pan or pot. It doesn’t conduct heat, so I know I can grab it and not scorch my hands. I have other mixing spoons, some plastic or metal, and even some newer wooden spoons, but I prefer using the old one. It’s my daily driver. I know I can rely on it.

It sort of reminds me of the “old saints,” as mature Christians are sometimes called. They’ve proven their worth through decades of faithful service to God. They’re not flashy, but carry out their duties quietly and steadfastly. They may show wear and tear, but that’s just evidence of the decades of trials that they’ve come through and the character they’ve developed. God knows He can rely on them.

I think especially of a great-aunt of mine, Gertie Cartmell. She was a missionary in China during the 1920s and 1930s. The Japanese invaded and occupied that part of China, and during the Second World War she was put in an internment camp near Shanghai.

She would be kept prisoner there from the day after the Pearl Harbour attack until the end of the war, about three and a half years. After being released in the fall of 1945 and recovering in hospital, she went right back to her duties as a missionary in China. I don’t believe she ever did return home to Canada. Gertie died of pneumonia in 1950, her health no doubt weakened from her years in the internment camp.

We should honour these old “saints” in our lives, and learn from them. They can teach us a thing or two about faithfulness and perseverance.

Oh, and if you’ve got an old wooden spoon? Keep using it. It won’t let you down.

@ 2019 Lori J. Cartmell

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