Tuesday Thoughts: The Torn Tee Shirt

Isaiah 51:6

“Lift up your eyes to the heavens and look on the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall grow old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner; but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.”

I never thought of a white tee shirt as a symbol, but to David, a white tee shirt said, “I am dressed simply in my tee shirt and jeans, because I am a down to earth person who doesn’t pretend to be anything different. What you see is what you get. Besides, this is as comfortable as it gets.”

He wore his white tees shirts by themselves in summer and covered with a long sleeve shirt in fall and winter. Taking off the winter long sleeve shirt and working in his garden and greenhouse wearing one of his old tee shirts and nothing on his bare arms was an important rite of spring he observed each year.

I had to wrestle his tee shirts away from him when they grew too old and worn to wear any longer. He joked that he, too, had grown old and worn, but he was still wearing and working. Some of his tee shirts looked like he had worn them almost forever, but he did not give them up easily.

I just smiled and bought him new ones, after confiscating the old worn-out ones to use for window washing rags and other polishing tasks. He did not appreciate this, because he swore his white tees would last forever and he could wear them as long.

The rhythm of our days, the rhythm that I took for granted, seemed to prove him right. Then, a failing heart broke the pattern of our time together, and eventually, he came home to spend his final days. I helped him put on one of his oldest, most comfortable tee shirts, but he pulled at it restlessly. The old tried and true tee, was no longer comfortable, especially around his neck and shoulders. Our granddaughter hurried to buy him some vee neck tee shirts and she returned with a package of them. The back of the tee shirt still bothered him, so I got my scissors and cut it straight up the back, so that he could breathe and move freely.

Our lives are like that. We embrace and old and comfortable and when it tears away, either gently and gradually, or roughly or rapidly, the transition is like a pair of scissors cutting away at our lives. The path between life and death is like a torn tee shirt, with scissors hitting our senses with stainless steel reality.

But God gives us another “S” word – Salvation. He promises that His salvation shall be forever and that His righteousness is everlasting. David ‘s old tee shirts no longer made him happy, and the new tee shirt could not make him comfortable. God’s love, compassion, and salvation and the prayers of his family and friends accompanied him to heaven.

I kept the torn tee shirt and when the sadness of transition between the old earth which grows old like a garment and the new resident of heaven overwhelms me, I bury my face in it. Eventually, I lift up my head and dry at my eyes with it. And I will hold on to it forever in my mind and heart when time tatters it.