Piles of broken sheetrock, nails, and chunks of trim too, what used to be the walls of the kitchen were now demolished and scattered all over the floor. We had been swinging away with big freakin hammers. We used flatbars to pry boards loose. We would worry about our cleanup later, the first order of business was to rip apart and tear down…
I had closed on my home, and had possession of the keys for not even 24 hours, when the kitchen was completely gutted. I had planned to take this little house and update it. Overall it was in decent shape, but certain things had to be changed. We started with the most important room in the house. Friends and family came over, we had a demo party and made a mess of it all.
That’s the point at which the previous owners decided to stop by.
Larry and Juanita must’ve seen our dump truck backed up to their former front porch. They probably were curious at what this crazy 23-year old kid was up to.
They walked in through the open door and stepped around knee-high mounds of busted up sheetrock. The look on sweet Juanita’s face was a bit of shock. She stammered and said hello. They were both just kind of staring around the place.
After an awkward second or two, she pointed down, almost through the stacks of scrap. She said something like, “I just mopped and scrubbed that floor yesterday!”
Ooops… for just a moment I was embarrassed at our speedy and enthusiastic demolition skills. I felt bad for her, that she had worked hard to leave the house in as clean a condition as she could. I’m not sure that there wasn’t fresh shelf paper lining the old cabinets that we yanked off the wall in big broken sections.
I was sorry that my idea of the house was so different and that I didn’t communicate it to them. I had planned all along to change it up, before moving in. We knocked out walls, we tore up the floor, we remodeled almost the whole thing…
And yes, 13 years later, I am still here, living in a little house on the corner of town in Princeton, Kay Ess.
I thought of that story today, as I drove through Ottawa. I frequent the Wal-Mart store at the south end of town. Lately a demolition has been underway at the site where Kentucky Fried Chicken used to be. Nearby, a new grocery store is being built also. That site used to be a row of houses, among other things.
Both of these new construction projects are happening directly on the grounds where something else used to exist. There was a floor in someone’s house, that they recently mopped, or vacuumed or wiped up a spill on, right before some bulldozers came and pushed them down. The KFC building had been unoccupied for awhile but right before that, a crew was working there. Someone probably spent time on one of their last days open, wiping down all the tables, and yes dragging a long-handled mop around the tile floor.
Now that same floor has been crushed up and hauled off. It doesn’t matter how clean it is now, it’s gone forever. Big scoops of earth are being moved around, right where that small scale work was done.
The futility of our impermanence can be daunting sometimes. I get caught in curiosity wondering if there is even a point to our earnest attempting to produce, build and accomplish. Just give it time, everything will change, the old will be washed away, the new will soon be old, the cycle spins on and on.
I think it may be wise to temper our excitement over the acquisition of the latest shiny object of our desire. Sure, even if it does come and have what we longed after, the high will soon fade. We notice it again, and yet seem to still get caught in the heat of the exhilarating anticipatory moment.
Our work cannot be completely frivolous… right? If our work all for not, then so may be our artistry, or our passions or love or even our lives. Of course, we would like to really understand a truth that our worry or sadness or frustrations may be good for absolutely nothing, could we then let them go forever, and really ‘Fear not’?
I bought the house I did, because it had been cared for. I could tell that it wasn’t a neglected rotten dump. I’m sure that the former owners did a nice job of caretaking, right up until the last day. That was just how they chose to be and how to live.
I’ve been reading every night from a book called Abba’s Child. I catch little glimpses right before I nod off to sleep. Lately the subject has been about being absolutely ingrained and saturated with your personal faith walk. It contrasted a weekend warrior approach to a spiritual journey.
Basically, it showed how everything you do, tells the story of where our heart lies, with focus on Jesus or not. The author shows how we are not required to perform works of our faith, but that everything we do, will reflect the love of the Lord or not. Our works, our actions, our expression of interaction with this world we live in, will demonstrate with precise accuracy our faith commitment.
Among a fallen, broken world, constantly being recycled and reinvented, it can be hard to decide where to expend our limited allowance of efforts time and money. Why should we mop the floor, when tomorrow it may be crushed under the bucket of a bulldozer.
There is only one reason that we would even try. We could decide that a personal discipline of stewardship and service to the places we inhabit, reward us with detached contentment. We could just be happy, that we tried to do what we could, at the present time, we used our gifts and resources, we made a personal effort. We could leave all the expectation of a certain outcome to be blow in the wind…
I wonder what that would really feel like, to fully live today, right now in true service without presumption. What would our future look like, if we let go of the need to have it a certain way?
I’ll spend some time wondering about that. If I come up with anything good, I’ll be sure to write it down. Here. For You…
Until next week, be well my friends!