Our patio furniture is sporting a shiny new rust-resistant finish today. And I have the scrapes and bruises to prove it.
Can’t say that I’m surprised. Seems like just about every DIY project I tackle returns a fair amount of pain at some point – a variety of physical contusions, sure; but mostly, blows to my ego.
No matter how simple “they” make it sound on YouTube, the reality — in my experience – is typically quite a bit different: More time, more cost, and often something less-than-the-perfect outcomes I expect.
So it was with this project: For starters, rust removal was a bear (perhaps in part because I was making-do with antediluvian tools, like my 38-year-old corded drill, spinning an imperfect assortment of wire-brush bits.) I scraped and grinded and sanded for the better part of an afternoon…and still, the patio pieces bore stubborn flakes of paint that I knew would have to be removed before the actual painting could begin.
That’s indignity #1 from my perspective: Why does the prep work take so long? Why does a “1-day project” so often turn into “two”? I came pretty close to throwing in the towel, but fortunately, Gerri entered the fray the next day. She managed to calm my embittered spirit…and provided more than a little of her own elbow-grease to the rust-removal process.
Indignity #2: Exactly how many trips to the home-improvement store is this project going to take? One is never enough, at least not for the reluctant handyman. He always manages to underestimate materials required. (Answer in this case: three trips, the last of which occurred during the busiest daypart of a holiday weekend. Try finding knowledgeable help in that environment!)
But 48 hours…and 8 (!) cans of Rust-oleum later…the patio furniture is looking better than it has in many years. It’s no longer just taking up space. It can once again provide a measure of hospitality and comfort.
And my latest DIY ordeal? It wound up offering an Easter lesson of sorts, when I sat with my morning prayer…and this Sunday’s scripture readings. The morning prayer included a passage from Sirach, one that seems perfectly suited to calm the negative vibes that have been afflicting my spirit:
If you apply yourself, you can be shrewd. If you are willing to listen, you can learn; if you pay attention, you can be instructed. (Sirach 6: 32)
“Overcoming resistance” seems to be a key theme in today’s Mass readings, too. In Acts, we hear about early disciples who cause dissension by clinging to old, established patterns of holiness. But the Holy Spirit has something different in mind for us…something new:
It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities…
In the Gospel, the Risen One beckons us forward, too. Jesus asks us to cast off our habits…our hard hearts…our ingrained patterns of resistance:
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
It’s a tough task at times, because well-established models can’t be overcome easily. But maybe that’s the best thing about the Easter grace coursing through our veins in these days of change: Jesus assures us that spiritual renewal is NOT a do-it-yourself project.
“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit…will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I told you.”
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.