Tuesday, December 05, 2006

God and the Art of Sanding Down Furniture

This past weekend was a great one. On Saturday I spent the first part of the day sanding down and refinishing our coffee table, which we acquired freely a few months ago. It had some great coffee mug stains, a purple crayon streak and a few wobbly legs. Not very troublesome for sandpaper, stain and glue. Now it sits in the same place with a better look and a better structure, at least to me.

Working down in the dungeon (our basement) has been good for me. I'm there underneath our house, looking at what lies beneath, trying to correct a woodworking problem, to make an unwanted stain disappear or simply trying to straighten something that is crooked. Just in case you think I'm romanticising--I also scream and unnecessarily pound excess wood due to my own mistakes and oversights. Oh, not to mention me grovelling on the cold, dirty basement floor right after I pounded my thumb with the hammer.

On Sunday Barb and I spent the afternoon in our living room. She napped in the winter sunlight and I finished reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I finally finished that book after years of psyching myself up for it. It didn't disappoint. There's a reason it's a classic. There's this one sentence that Marlow, the guy who is telling the story throughout the book, says that has stuck with me, "No, I don't like work. I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that can be done. I don't like work--no man does--but I like what is in the work--the chance to find yourself. Your own reality--for yourself, not for others--what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means." And as I read Genesis this morning--the very first book in the Bible about the very first things--I wondered if God already knew this and that is why he placed Adam and Eve in the Garden and gave them the responsibility to tend it.

As I have undertaken some major projects around the house (and other projects and other times) I have found this to be true. When I take on something like the above or even completely refinishing our hardwood floors like I did a few months ago, I am faced with what's inside me. There is no one else around. There is only me, God, and a bunch of filth. It's quite interesting--me working on the table and the floors (especially the floors)--I felt this deep connection between me and God, that we were together working. I work on the floor; he works on me. I didn't arrange it. I didn't plan or pray for it. That's just how it's been. Honestly, it's like that because God has outsmarted me, but that's a conversation for another time.