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Clean as a Whistle

Mr. Harmon. Is there a damage report?

Yes, Captain. This ship’s a total wreck. If we’d have arrived any later she’d of sunk by now. Punched fill of holes and taking on water fast.

Pirates then. That same foul crew that cannonballed the Cranmer, I’ll wager.

No Sir. Not those demon pirates from Hades.

Mister Harmon! If you please! None of that snoot-in-the-aire-fancy-half-transliterated-Greek-palaver around here. We speak God’s good English onboard this ship. We’re not word-wresting men of guile, are we now? A proper translation, if you please.

Apologies, Sir. What I meant to say was, it wasn’t those devil pirates from Hell.

What makes you say so?

This one is different, Sir. There is no damage to the side of the vessel, save one gaping wound, port side, well above the water line. The cannon fire appears to have rained down from above.

From above? Ahhhh. I see. The usual odor and signs that accompany such cases?

Yes Sir. Salt and sulfur. The heaviest bombardment witnessed in recent history. Maybe even since the Old Bedford herself was pelted nigh to smithereens.

Any survivors, Mister Harmon?

One, Sir. The pilot. Half drown and delirious. Sobbing like a little baby. Crying about his lost love, and the children of his bosom. It’s not certain yet if he will pull through. He keeps repeating the same phrase, over and over. And he’s clutching a book, Sir.

What book, Mister Harmon?

You know the book, Captain.

Indeed I do. And the phrase he repeats also, if I’m not off my mark. About this book, none of those colonial perversions, I trust?

No Sir. It’s penned in the King’s own proper English.

Well, that is encouraging news at the least now, isn’t it Mister Harmon? God be praised. This wretch may pull through yet. Carry on then. First aid for the pilot. And clean up this wreck the best you can. You know the drill.

It scarcely seems salvageable, Sir. I’ve a feeling it’s a lost cause. The cannon-fire from above is only part of the matter. Most of the damage to the vessel was done from within. Bloody near sunk itself from the abuse its guts sustained.

Mister Harmon! If you’d care to watch your language please!, this is His Majesty’s Ship afterall, not some French brothel!

Again, my apologies, Sir. I forgot myself. It is my opinion that it might be best to just let this one go, rather than waste the effort. Just a hopeless feeling about it. So much damage.

You were not commissioned to have an “opinion”, Mister Harmon, nor to go by your “feelings”. We go by the Book around here. The Book and the Book only. Every blessed word.

****

When children, Mom used to read to us. It was our evening entertainment ever since the day Dad chucked out the television set. You know the old story, Brother wanted Batman, I wanted Superman… in the end we got neither. Dad chucked out the television set. That settled the matter.

Mom would read to us in the evenings before sending us to bed. Dad was there. My big brother. Two of my little sisters. Me, of course. Then whatever other children grew old enough to care as the years went by, before the tradition stopped.

I still remember the books. I still remember the times. The settings, the different houses we lived at, where I was seated so many of the nights, the crackling of the fire in winter, hot chocolate on occasion, the petty comments and questions the stories elicited, Dad’s discipline the times we just couldn’t sit still, the cold winter nights, the warm summer evenings.

Quiet wonderful family time…

…cause the phone never rang past eight but for emergencies. Folks were considerate back then. The phone mounted on the wall, decent like, tethered by a cord, wired somehow to my best friend’s house, my brother’s friend’s house, to Dad’s work, to the church people, to my aunts and uncles, modern and fancy, and got the job done just fine and no need to improve upon it at all ’til some high up muckety muck magic man got orders to cut the wires off the blamed thing, corrupting good manners, leading silly women away captive, and generally busting up families altogether.

A. Graham Bell
made it work so well.
The devil cut the wires off
and sent us all to Hell.

Decent phones used to sit in decent places so decent folk could get to bed at a decent hour after reading a chapter in some decent book. If it rang after eight it meant something bad was going on.  Reading time meant something good.

Cheaper by the Dozen, Little Britches, Summer of the Monkeys, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Childcraft books, Uncle Arthur, the list goes on… My mother’s soft voice graham crackers and frosting no joshin’ around please or story time ends and off to bed then someone gets scolded by someone else for spoilin’ it all shape up bucko or it just might wind up more than a scoldin’ next time wanna hurtz donut? Good manners sirs and young maids, if you please.

One of the highlights of my memory was when we read The Wind in the Willows. The part that simmered in my mind for over three decades, surfacing and sinking and bubbling and mulling, was a modest little concept that emerged in the very first chapter. First sentence, in fact. More far reaching than all the toad-weasel-badger-rat-mole-motorcar-madness-what the heck is a stoat anyway? that comprised the rest of the book. This little concept?

Spring Cleaning!

We asked what it was and Mom told us. After the long winter lifted and warm rain and sprigs of green emerged, one had to rid the accumulation of filth and rust and gummed up works. Candle suet wiped, chimneys sweeped, rugs and drapes aired out, whitewash applied. Gobs and piles of junk stacked to the sky then set aflame.

A purging of the winter filth. Delimb. Dejunk. Declutter. DEREZ. Delete. Scour. Remove. Get rid of. Throw out. Eliminate. Divest the old life of accrual. New life begins. A breath of fresh air. Crisp and clean and clear. Refreshing. Reviving. Restoring. Revitalizing. Lemon. Verbena. Hyssop. Lye. Vinegar. Soda. Green fruit from green trees. The purging of poisons. The liver sighs, then smiles, then rests. Clean. Clean. Clean.

****

Scrub. Scrub. Scrub, Mister Harmon! Are all hands busily engaged in the work of cleaning this mess up?

Yes, Captain. All hands busily engaged.

Night and day
day and night
from dark to dark
from light to light.

Very well, Mister Harmon. And how fares the pilot?

He’s improving, Sir. Out of imminent danger, but still unbearable pain. Seems to have gathered his wits, for the most part. Depression and despair have begun to set in, he claiming personal responsibility for the wreck, and the loss of his family.

Progress has been made then it seems. God is good, though we merit it not. Continue first aid for the pilot, Mister Harmon, it appears the Lord aims to have this colonial sprout up and about in due time, for His own purposes.

About that first aid, Captain, the new physician proposed we prescribe those new enveloped powders for the pain, rather than straining our rum ration. Might be well for morale if-—

To the devil with those new-fangled enveloped powders and potions, Mister Harmon! I won’t have such inventions aboard my ship! Throw ’em all overboard, and the new physician along with them if he makes a fuss. We are not heathen, after all. Strong drink for the pain, ’til it subsides. Wean back to wine for the heaviness of heart. But mind your measures carefully; there will be no drunkards aboard this ship! God’s own remedy, Mister Harmon (Prov. 31:6). Who are we to think we know better than the Lord? He made us and knows us best. By the Book, Mister Harmon. Always by the Book. Every blessed word.

Aye Aye, Captain! To the pit of Hades—, errr, ummm, what I mean is, to the pit of Hell with the new doctor and his devices, Sir! The Old Paths remedy it will be.

Very good, Mister Harmon. And how goes the search for the lost kindred? A mother and five little ones, is it now?

Yes, Sir. Word is three have been recovered. Being attended, as we speak. The mother and the other two still adrift somewhere. Lost at sea.

Lost to us, perhaps, Mister Harmon. Not lost to the Lord, if they be His (John 10:27). Let us attend our duty and continue the search. God alone can fix what is broken, or let it so remain, as He sees fit. Humpty Dumpty on the wall, and all that. Carry on, Mister Harmon. Hold to the Old Paths. Structure. Order. Duty. Honor to the King. You know the drill.

****

****

Now nevermind in the story that Mole said bother to it all and ran off into the world seeking its pleasures abandoning duty and established tradition and order to inherit little more than the wind and riot and chaos. Made for a fine adventure full of thrills and delights to the reader, but only stuff fit for the pages of fiction. Real life should be orderly and structured, so far as possible. Mole should have stuck to his duty. That of Spring Cleaning. He was an English Mole, after all. But he shirked.

But now, let’s suppose he did not shirk.

The cottage and grounds would have soon been clean and fresh and fit for proper living and the welcoming of visitors. Teatime is cancelled when Spring Cleaning is neglected. Things just aren’t fit for polite company without Spring Cleaning. THEN THERE IS THE MAINTENANCE CLEANING FROM THAT TIME FORTH. Never lose heart, Mister Harmo—, I mean… Mister Mole. Duty first.

I remember Mom’s instructions to us kids concerning the arrival of visitors. “The Defacto family is coming by this evening for a visit. I just cleaned the place. Don’t clutter it back up!” I doubt the DeFactos noticed, or even cared, whether the place was scoured or not, but that was because the joint was clean as a whistle, due to my mother’s efforts. Had she not prepared things, undoubtedly a few eyebrows would have been raised throughout the years. Our family…

would have developed a reputation!!!

You know those families. Piles of laundry stacked on counters. Laundry baskets filled with toys. Toy chests empty and open. Kids hollerin’ and thunderin’. Near collisions in hallways and at corners and junction ways. Manners degenerate quickly as order declines. Loud voices. Loud language. Loud vestments. Loud loudness. Loud lewdness.

Lose the loudness. Lose the lewdness.
             -Three minute old proverb

But the opposite occurred within the walls of our home. When visitors called, the red carpet was rolled out. Answer politely when Mr. DeFacto asks a question. Sit quietly and listen in the presence of your elders. Stop squirming around! Children should be present, as should all the family, hiding in bedrooms and hallways only for cravens and cowards, so no big fanfare please when baby brother finally marshals courage to join the gathering. Normal behavior is expected behavior. Children should be seen and not heard. Unless called upon.

So stop your thundering and parading and interrupting and not-so-clever-antics-and-remarks you scavenged from the trash tube while at your friend’s house! No such corruption of manners taught here. Not since Dad chucked out the television set.

And clean don’t cost a thing. Just some elbow grease and scullery knees. No money needed. Everyone has a broom and a brush. That and a little diligence all that’s required. And a heap of gumption. Without gumption a man ain’t nothing! Gumption makes a man, not money. No need of money. Money just means fancy. It shouldn’t mean clean. It’s poor folks that clean the rich folks houses and offices mostly anyway, right? Take a little pride in your own.

 It’s not the clothes that make the man…

Oh, YES IT IS! If they’re as filthy as sin a bloke had better just’ve returned from slopping the hogs or digging up potatoes or cutting wood or something. If clothes are habitually grubby, then they tell a great deal about the man.

Other than clean or dirty though, the clothes don’t matter an ounce, except they be scandalously revealing, or lewd, or loud, or absent. Clean clothes don’t cost a thing to keep clean, except for a washboard, a little elbow grease, and a bit of soap. And nowadays it doesn’t even cost the elbow grease. Dad never chucked out the washing machine, you know. And for good reason. So, use it!!!

Hence, we helped keep the house clean. Did we do it for nought? Nothing doing! We did it because Mom asked us to. Reason enough. And we did it because we were trained to it, AS A DUTY, each according to how deep the lesson ingrained. And we did it for family honor. We sure didn’t want to be that dirty-laundry-pile-thundering-blundering-loud-talking-loud-squacking-loud-mouthed-Mom-bellering-from-her-soap-opera-sofa-kind-of-a-family! Shudder the thought.

And Mom took care of her own. We got an extra special something for dessert sometimes after such occasions. Sometimes. Not all of the time. An extra ration of grog isn’t a “right” after splicing the braces, you know, but any captain knows it goes a long way towards keeping up morale.

****

Mister Harmon.

Yes, Captain?

Are the yards mended and sails patched and the banner set to unfurl?

Yes Sir. All’s shipshape and Bristol fashion.

And what, pray tell, is the credo on the banner?

The pilot altered it, Sir, as predicted. Just a few letters struck and added, an M culled, a TH appended, “MY WILL” changed to “THY WILL”. Looks real fine now, Sir. Seems the ship is entirely surrendered to new rule. To that of the GREAT KING.

Very good, Mister Harmon. My commendation to the men for their hard work. Extra ration of grog for all.

HUZZAH!!!

****

Mom was the champion dessert maker. Chocolate cake. Chocolate pie. Chocolate-chip cookies. Chocolate crinkles. Chocolate brownies. Something store bought, when time was in a crunch. But Mom had the time, mostly. Mom MADE the time! Mom was the champion dessert maker, you know. Dad never chucked out her mixer. He was nobody’s fool.

A little over five years ago when God found me bottom of the barrel and gathered me in by showing me the truth of the Bible, I thought I had it whipped on both ends now. I had been saved from hell and now I was going to jolly well skip on through life in bliss. Me, Jesus, and my sins. Three peas in a pod. And it worked for a while. A VERY SHORT WHILE!

The thought of being saved in Jesus gave me momentary respite from my avenging conscience and the guilt of my sins. But then the words of the Bible started lambasting me. Ouch. The Word of God, sharper than any two-edge sword (Hebrews. 4:12). It didn’t just cut outward, but inward also. The sharper cuts to the inside. I weren’t no locust to land on no edge of no sword unscathed (Joel 2:8). Oh, the filth in my soul! The wickedness. The desires and habits I walked with two abreast, sin my kindred companion, unnatural as you please.

But now sin had a bitter taste to it. Someone had reversed engines and the waters were turning up the blackest filth. From what cesspool have such foul waters flown?

From the cesspool of my wicked heart

God saved me, surely, the Bible told me so. But what of this filth? What of this nagging conscience? Why now such sting to the sins that spring from my heart? Before so sumptuous. Now so bitter. Call me not by name. Call me Mara (Ruth 1:20).

The sweetness of sin had fled. My own dear wife now fled. Oh God! Bring back the wife of my youth! I dealt so treacherously with her (Malachi 2:14). I see it now. The Bible showed me. Forgive me, Lord. He did. But He took my dear wife. Tore the very rib from my side. A gaping hole portside, leaving the heart exposed. Fill it. Fill it. Fill it. Somehow, I would find a way. Too late. Too late. Too late. Oh Jesus! Save me! He did. Saved me from my sins.

and thou shall call his Name Iesus: for hee shall saue his people from their sinnes.
                            Matt. 1:21 (Holy Bible 1611)

See that there? Saved his people FROM their sins. He wasn’t going to let me dwell in my sins, afterall. Oh my… I wouldn’t get to keep those filthy things! Jesus would not allow it. Settled.

So, now the clouds parted, the sun shone through, the waters sparkled, the leprechauns piped, and a pot of gold appeared at rainbow’s end. Right?

WRONG!!!

Oh, the tears I cried for my lost wife! The prayers I sobbed and bawled and blubbered to the heavens. My wife. My wife. My dear, sweet wife. The wife of my youth. The wife You gave me, dear Lord, and now took from me. Just desserts and so deserved, but I ask mercy. Please bring her back.

But I only cried for my loss. For the loss of my wife. For the loss of my rib. For the hole in my heart. For the sorrow of my folly. For the treachery I dealt to my love, and to myself. I wept. Yes, I wept. Buckets of tears. I wept for my loss. I wept for my pain.

BUT I DID NOT WEEP FOR MY GOD!!!

For the sins I had committed AGAINST my God! See that there? Like the thief that stands shackled before the judge, pleading mercy, so sorry, so very very sorry… THAT HE HAS BEEN CAUGHT!!! Not that he committed a crime. Did the same road lead to the same choice; the same crime would be committed once more.

What about the HORRENDOUS crimes I had committed towards God?!? What about sinning against him? Leading the wife he GAVE me astray. Where were such thoughts? Sin now had a bitter edge, for sure, but had not yet become revolting. Habit and rote still wielded it like a double-bit swamping axe, rolled in it like a sow in the mire, lapped it up like a dog does its own vomit (Proverbs 26:11). The devil said dance, and by hell’s heart… I still danced!

But God had plans for cleaning my heart. Refiners fire. Fuller’s soap. Out dross, out! A work no MAN can execute. The dung-ridden Augean Stables, a mote by comparison to the filth in my heart. But Jesus knows the way. Jesus IS the way. He would have his victory. The storm in my heart would be quelled, be subdued, cease to rage. Peace. Be still (Mark 4:39). A work no man can accomplish.

But Spring Cleaning can be attended. A work man CAN perform. OUGHT to perform. See that there? We aren’t devoid of our duties, to be sure. There ARE things for us to do. Just because we cannot wrangle Leviathan, or throw the Kraken two out of three, doesn’t mean we can’t swab the deck, scrape a few barnacles, apply a coat of paint, or wire brush away the rust. Leaving such duties UNATTENDED is just keeping the engine warmed for a trip back to old habits. Back to backslidden.

So, swab the deck, Matey! Swab like your life depends upon it!

****

Mister Harmon! You look a little green around the gills today. Penny for your thoughts?

Not these thoughts, Captain. These thoughts may prove my undoing.

Come on, Mister Harmon, out with it. I’m no papist priest to demand confession, but I do urge you to bend my ear, should you need it, least some silly scratch fester and inflame. A stitch in time, they say.

Good of you, Sir, I have such need. But stop me if I cause you to traverse ground where even angels fear to tread—

Stay such sentimentalities, Mister Harmon! What do you think I am,

A REED SHAKEN WITH THE WIND?

Captain’s hats aren’t grown on trees, afterall, nor entrusted to the rabble. I would be miserable comforter indeed, if unable to chew the grist. Say it or stow it, Mister Harmon.

Then I say it, Sir. In the course of scouring the pilot’s vessel, a foul DEVICE was located below deck, in the ship’s very heart. Locked away in the vault, beyond the rods and pins and tumblers. No key would fit the lock, so we forced it. In the depths of the darkness we found it, a curious contrivance of metal and glass, and looked upon it. Oh, that we had not looked! But we so did.

Contrivance of metal and glass, you say? Was there a maker’s mark of any kind?

Of a kind, Sir, and odds on… the origin the pit of Hades.

English if you please, Mister Harmon! None of those fancy Greek permutations! ENGLISH ONLY on board my ship.

From the pit of Hell, Sir. That’s where this foul engine originated, and where it should be once more cast. We asked it questions, and it answered with guile, all flatteries and lies and blasphemies. A relativity machine of some sort. An oracle. Spewing devilish doctrines on every subject. A window to some place that does not in fact exist. An ungodly image of some kind. And oh, the wickedness contained in this place!

Steady yourself, Mister Harmon. Carry on.

Depictions and ideas of such lewdness and filth that they stain the very soul, corrupting and corroding and enslaving, playing upon the depravity of man’s heart, searing and burning away the last vestiges of conscience, rendering its partakers senseless of all goodness, no longer capable of discernment betwixt good and evil. Walking dead men. Hollow men. Shells. Filled with all ungodliness, brimmed with the fullness of Babylon’s balm, drinking insatiably upon her abominations, even as it spills out over the rim of the cup, staining the hem of the rags they call raiment. The whole world wonders after it, Sir. Drunk on this wine. On this sorcery. This masterstroke. This crowning ABOMINATION.

Of which “abomination” in particular do you speak, Mister Harmon?

Of her pornographies.

MISTER HARMON! Must I remind you? We are Englishman.

Pardon Sir. Of her writings of fornication. They fill the whole earth.

The whole earth, you say?… or just this “image” of which you speak?

Both, Sir. All carry this foul device, and do consult it. The image pours forth as a great flood, soaking all the inhabitants of the earth, drowning them in a great delusion. A great deception. A flood of FORNICATION, calling it wisdom, progression, ART, evolution, sophistication, LIBERTY, character, personality, choice, identity, FASHION. Even the Christians do so merchandise. The whole world wonders. The whole world. Even the very elect.

The very elect, even?

If it were possible, Sir. And this, the cause of my melancholy.

Yes. I see. Very disturbing indeed, Mister Harmon. Christians themselves imbibing. Drunk on her fornications. Wanton eyes, stretched forth necks, fine linen. Mantles, wimples, crisping pins. Private rooms and public streets turned fleshpots. Rent and stink and burn. A lost cause certainly, told in such light. But you aim amiss, my good friend. You have forgotten one thing. Something fundamental… O thou of little faith!

Forgotten something, Sir? What is it that I have forgotten?

THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB!!!

That washes away the sin,
of    them    that    are
bought with a
price

Oh, you speak truly!, Captain. Dear God in heaven!… how my eyes have strayed from the mark!  You are correct, Sir. I looked back for but a moment, and the plow ran off course.

Ever the farmer, Mister Harmon, despite your present uniform. Never forget where you came from, it does you honor. For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. A farmer knows that best of all.

And what of this devilish device, Sir? What is to be done with this “relativity machine”?

What do you propose, Mister Harmon?

Send it to the Royal Society, I suppose, for study. Best we be educated on this matter so as to arm against its future assault. The enemy battle plan, fallen into our hands, the things we could lear—

MISTER HARMON!!! In so short a span you mar the furrow yet again? Perhaps a set of blinders for the plowman, as well as the horse, ehhhh, Mister Harmon? Now, pray tell, how do we do things on board this ship?

By the BOOK, Sir!

Indeed. That we do. And what, based on the Book, should we do with this “foul machine”?

Throw it in the drink, Sir. Sink it to the bottom of the sea.

Indubitably, Mister Harmon. Make it so.

****

Spring Cleaning for me came in the form of the DELETE button. Megabytes. Kilobytes. Gigabytes. Terabytes. So much sin. So much filth. So many images for so many years. My heart and conscience seared by a ceaseless diet of wicked images. Strumpets and harlots and whores, plying their devilish trade. Trading the beauty God gave them for a few of Satan’s baubles. Selling themselves to the simple ones, to the man void of understanding (Proverbs 7:7), to any fool that pays everything and receives nothing in return. Nothing, that is, but death and ruin and damnation. I was the chief of such fools! But no longer. Delete. Delete. DEREZ. Delete. A taste of things to come. Goodbye, whores.

But you can’t delete the INTERNET!

So again, God must change the heart. The delete button means nothing to an unchanged heart, or to an undisciplined mind. It just means wiping the mouth of vomit before returning once more to the slop (Proverbs 30:20). So in the end it was really Jesus that did the Spring Cleaning. He changed my heart. Applied the rod. Taught me discipline. Washed me white as snow. But I swabbed the deck, like duty demanded. Over and over and over again. Hands and knees. Scrub brush. Bucket o’rflowing with suds. What would Mommy think of her little Wind in the Willows boy now?

Oh Lord, forgive my sins. Oh Lord, forgive my sins. Oh Lord, forgive my sins. Oh Lord, forgive my sins. Oh Lord, forgive my sins. Oh Lord, forgive my sins. Oh Lord, forgive my sins. Oh Lord, forgive my sins. Oh Lord, forgive my sins. Oh Lord, forgive my sins…

****

Mister Harmon, why does the pilot amble my deck with that blood soaked rag wrapped around his head?!?

He plucked his eye out, Sir. It did offend him.

Ahhhhh…. Yes. Very commendable. Very commendable. See that he gets a proper eye patch, if you please.

****

And then the movies and books had to go. The whole collection. One of the best private libraries in any county of the Union carted all across the country to whatever place of residence offered a hook to hang my hat upon, before moving yet again. First editions, antique and used bookstore finds, online acquisitions, the rifling of Dad and Granddad’s bookshelves, &c.

Purchases sufficient to bankrupt a family, or at least squander any chance of brick by brick building of a foundation. Dross for the cost of silver. Shrewd. I still pay on that debt. And deservedly so. I had to have books. The books themselves, as idols, as well as the information found on their pages. A lust for the wisdom of the world. The best volumes of history, philosophy, poetry, theology, novels, garbage, garbage, garbage, this world had to offer. A madcap marauding for truth (of which I ultimately found none). Vanity and vexation under the sun.

And then the movies. A silent film collection second to none. A foreign film array to be envied, from the furthest reaches of the world, anywhere a crank had turned, forward or backward, fastward or slow. Everything Hollywood ever made that I could get my hands on. Independent and art films ignored by the mainstream. Modern cinema. Classic cinema. Color. Black and white.

The silver screen
The gold screen
The fall in lust with harlots screen;
Flush your morals down the drain
As worms munch on your guts and brain.

The most ungodly twisting of truth beneath the heavens! A monkey see monkey do set of instructional tapes on how to destroy yourself, your family, and blaspheme God… for the bargain-bin price of your soul.

A mess of pottage

Of which I greedily partook. A fool pays everything and receives nothing in return. Nothing but death and ruin and damnation. I was the chief of such fools. And now the chief of lighter fluid and a box of matches. Burn. Burn. BLISTER. Burn. Goodbye wicked schoolmaster.

Addendum to dad’s family tradition:

Television: Never had it. (Thanks Dad)

DVD player: Rarely used. Content controlled.

Computer: Dehorned. Declawed. Teeth pulled.

Phone: Dumb phone, or no phone.

Hi-Fi/Headphones: Wholesome music.

Books: The Holy Bible 1611. Poetry. Study.

Goodbye worldly wisdom. Goodbye harlots. Goodbye fodder that my wicked flesh craves. It shall be fed no more. Spring Cleaning realized.

****

Mister Harmon, is there a progress report?

Yes, Captain. The job has been accomplished. The best that can be done with a bucket of suds, a scrub brush, and good old English discipline. God preserve the rest.

Very well, Mister Harmon. And how fares the pilot?

Rallying to a new standard, Sir. A psalm in his heart. Allied to a local fleet. Gripping the Bible with assurance now, in the stead of anxious desperation. Disciplined by its teachings, at least as best as be possible for an uncouth Colonialist.

Ahhhhh, yes, the best that can be expected, it seems. Any scars or wounds from the encounter?

Some, Sir. A few lingering health issues, two of the little ones still adrift at sea, and of course, THE BROKEN RIB. Some things can only be healed by God Himself. As He wills.

‘Tis true, Mister Harmon. God’s will be done, whatever that may be that brings glory to His name. Now let us strike up a chorus in honor of our great King, to lift the morale of the lads as we bid this pilot Godspeed.

A mighty fortress is our God!
    A bulwark never failing.
    Out helper He amid the flood,
    Of mortal ills prevailing…

Ummmmm, Captain?

What is it now, Mister Harmon?

Well, I know how you like all things done the “English” way aboard this ship. No fancy Greek or Latin or Hebrew palaver. Well, was not this song we sing written by Martin Luther, a German born?

Indeed it was, Mister Harmon. Written in German, printed in German, and first sung in German… but by the grace of our great God… TRANSLATED into the King’s very own proper English! Now fill those bellows you call lungs and sing to the glory of our Lord!

For still our ancient foe
    Doth seek to work us woe!…

****

All burned, now. All them witches. All them whores. All deleted. Cleaned of the filth. The idols removed and destroyed, not put in some storage chest for future use, peradventure the heart once more seeks to go a-whoring. Citadel complete. Walls built to keep the IMAGE out. Routines and safeguards to keep the OLD MAN in. Checks and balances, Sir. Checks and balances. Jot. Jot. Tittle. Stablished. Even if a fox goes up.

A man can do very little of worth, apart from his duty. THE DUTY FOUND WITHIN THE PAGES OF THE BIBLE. God does very great things. Man very little things. Very little indeed, but little oft yields a lot. One of the most crucial duties man can perform, yet most often shirks, is best summed up in a single word. Spring Cleaning. Errrrr… two words, I guess. No matter. I beseech thee to it.

Only Jesus can save
a man from sin and the grave
He plucked you from doom
and gave you a broom
so for God’s sake
CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM!

****

Mister Harmon. Is there a final status report on the pilot’s vessel?

The place is clean, Sir.

The place is clean?!? A five year program of scrubbing and scouring and burning and burnishing… and all you can manage is “the place is clean?!?” Now, show a little gusto, Mister Harmon, a bit of the old spit with that polish. I ask again, what is the status of the pilot’s ship?

CLEAN AS A WHISTLE, SIR!

Purge me with hyssope, and I shalbe cleane: wash me, and I shall be whiter then snow.
                           Psalm 51:7 (Holy Bible 1611)