During trek this year, my married daughter will do a demonstration of cleaning wool. This is germane to trek because of the scripture in Isaiah:
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1: 18
I am thinking that the image Isaiah had in mind might have been a sheep shearing where the sheep was cut in the process of removing the fleece. But even when the sheep shearer is able to remove the fleece without cutting the skin, the fleece is full of lanolin (sheep body oil), dirt, burrs, and all manner of corruption.
To clean the fiber in the fleece, one might imagine that it involves adding soap and water and agitating the mass. But this is only partly true.
It is true that you prepare a boiling-hot bath of mildly soapy water for the fleece, but then you simply immerse the fleece in the hot water. All the dirt and most of the foreign matter comes away from the wool fibers over time in the quiet immersion of the fleece in the water over time. The fleece is gently lifted from the mildly soapy water and immersed a second time in pure hot water. What remains is pure wool, as white as possible (given the sheep from which it came).
Once the wool is clean, it isn’t magically transformed into useful products. To be transformed into cloth, the clean wool must be combed and carded, spun and woven or knitted or nail-bound or crocheted.
In a similar manner, this is like baptism, cleaning us for the work ahead. And then our lives become drawn out in service, becoming a thing of utility and beauty in the hands of the Lord.
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