Over the years I’ve lost the ability to see dirt. Arriving in Africa, everything looked dirty. Mud houses, packed earth floors, clay beds and stoves.  And the local soap was fabricated with wood ash.

Each morning I swept the packed-earth floor. But by noon crumbs of clay dropped from the walls, dust fell from the thatch roof and termite remains blew across the window sill. Sweeping three times each day never eliminated the dirt.  And over the years I learned to live with it and in it, and eventually lost my ability to see it. 

One day an African lady pointed out a spider web in the corner, which must have been there a long time.

I smiled at her. “You have a real gift for seeing dirty. Would you like the job of cleaning my house and I will pay you?”

She needed an income and I thanked God for the clean house.

Years later I visited an American church and offered to help the ladies clean. After sweeping the floor I collected a smile pile of dirt.

Another woman came inside and said. “This floor is a mess. I’ll sweep.”  She picked up a heap of dirt.

Then Mrs. Clean arrived, took a broom and collected more dirt from the same floor.

After she departed the new improved Mrs. Clean came and swept a small handful of dirt into the dustpan.

Lots of folks seem to have the genuine gift of seeing dirt, which I lack. But is seeing dirt a real talent?

Maybe it would be good if we didn’t have that ability to see dirt, and no longer noticed the faults or specks in our brother’s eyes. Imperfections in others. Little blunders of those around us. Mistakes family and friends make. 

Jesus said in Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of saw dust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

If we were busy trying to get those planks out of our eyes, maybe we would never have the time or opportunity to see the speck in our brother’s eyes.

Thanks for joining me,



About celestecharlene

I served as a medical missionary in West Africa for thirty years treating the sick and establishing health clinics in rural neglected areas.
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