Getting at the Marrow

We hauled our old, lumpy queen mattress to the curb this morning. And since our city restructured its waste management, this was our only “freebie” pickup, so we tore through the backyard shed to make sure we got our money’s worth.

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on

Ten minutes later, I looked at the pile. A tableau of ten years of life, right there on the curb. Two little mattresses, a hand-me-down toddler bed frame, an old crib, a car seat, a broken bike, a raggedy office chair, a play kitchen, the stroller I put hundreds of miles on–all so worn from use that there’s no life in them for a next guy. (Believe me, I’ve tried to give some of this stuff away.)

We wrung the life out of that stuff, sucked out the marrow as Thoreau says.

Later in the morning, Roger and I were working on his reading lesson. This particular lesson had taken us 30 minutes when we first encountered it last week–half reading, half cajoling and disciplining.

We spent this week reviewing previous lessons, so that when we tried it again today, he (mostly) breezed through it. He grinned at me when he finished, proud of reading eleven sentences with minimal help.

There is something desperately, hopelessly beautiful about teaching your child to read. Most of it is pure frustration and anguish, but then there are those moments where they are starting to get it and you don’t want to breathe because the moment is so fragile that you worry any air pressure change will shatter it.

This reading lesson book is a $4 used copy from eBay. I taught Claudia using it, I taught Eleanor, and now I’m teaching Roger. There are pages with angry notes from frustrated readers, pages with happy drawings from content ones. Likely peanut butter smudges.

We are wringing the life out of it, sucking out the marrow.

Things are made to be used up, but people are made to be filled.

Published by MK Jorgenson

Thinking, writing, and talking about Christian stewardship in all of its facets.

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