I was about 20 minutes into the 25-year warranty on my brand-spanking-new half-moon edging spade…when the first crack appeared in the upper reaches of the blade.
‘Uh-oh,’ I thought. ‘This is not good.’
I spent the next few minutes in denial. ‘Maybe it’ll still be strong enough to last until I get the row done.’
But with each subsequent plunge into the turf, the allegedly tempered-steel blade weakened a bit more…and its effectiveness diminished considerably. Alas: The tool I had just purchased in the interest of efficiency was now costing me time.
And more: Upon closer inspection, I realized that the edger had been poorly designed from the git-go…the tip of the handle, inserted into the flange in such a way that it created a pressure point—making failure inevitable.
So back to the big-box home improvement store I went, seeking a refund. An exchange wouldn’t do, seeing as how the store carried only the poorly-designed spade. Which meant I’d be burning more daylight, too, in my quest for a tool that was adequate to this rather mundane landscaping task.
Then more frustration at big box store #2: The retailer offered six or seven different spades, but none of them a half-moon edger. So it was on to big box store #3…where at last, I found the edger I’d been looking for.
I really wanted to be annoyed by it all—the wasted hours spent shopping rather than digging. In truth, though, my frustrations pretty much melted away when the blade of the new tool sliced into the soil. It was SO much better than the edger I’d been using before. Zip…zip…zip—and the row was done!
And the whole morning turned into a God-wink when I thought back on the spiritual gifts I have received in much the same manner over the past couple of years. From time to time, I stumble across some really fine tools—and discover how they can turn drudgery into a joy. On occasion, they’ve even led to moments that took my breath away.
This is a pretty heavy load, I suppose, to lay on a simple piece of steel.
On the other hand, I suspect I’m not alone in my appreciation of the benefit derived from having access to a proper (and high performing) tool. Could it be, perhaps, part of reason why a certain carpenter’s son gave us sacraments?
There are pressure points in every life’s journey, after all—points that make failure inevitable. But when the pressure’s on, the right sacramental tool often can ease the burden: Baptism…confirmation… anointing… reconciliation…Eucharist. Especially Eucharist.
Day after day, year after year, the sacraments are there for us – so familiar that we may not even notice the extraordinary beauty and power they usher in. And sure, you can probably get by without ‘em. But the question is why?
Why deprive yourself of tools that are purpose-built…to open wide the door to grace?
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.