Thursday, May 13, 2010

Eleanor Roosevelt and Sanding 101

Several years ago, I came across a prayer by Eleanor Roosevelt. I have often included it in my own conversations with the Lord. It jump-starts my thinking, inspires me, gives me hope and challenges me to look outside of myself.

Our Father, who has set a restlessness in our hearts and made us all seekers after that which we can never fully find, forbid us to be satisfied with what we make of life. Draw us from base content and set our eyes on far off goals. Keep us at tasks too hard for us that we may drive to thee for strength. Deliver us from fretfulness and self-pitying; make us sure of the good we cannot see and of the hidden good in the world. Open our eyes to simple beauty all around us and our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try to understand them. Save us from ourselves and show us a vision of the world made new.

Different parts of the prayer speak to me more forcefully depending on the day or what I happen to be struggling with or praying about. Today, I was reminded of this line, "Open our hearts to the loveliness men hide from us because we do not try to understand them." I was getting the emissions test for my car so I could renew my license tabs and this older, disgruntled, disheveled-looking employee was working at my line. He motioned me forward, grunted his instructions, wouldn't make eye contact and seemed altogether miserable and unhappy. My first instinct was to look straight ahead so I wouldn't have to make small talk. Something (or Someone) made me look at him, however, and casting around in my brain for something to say, I asked, "So, are you going to get off work in time to enjoy this weather?" He gave me a withering look and mumbled, "Yeah, in an hour." Conversation over, I thought. After about thirty seconds he said, "How do you like that Kia?" I gave him what I hoped was an intelligent answer and then he launched into a discussion about history and foreign relations. He said I was probably too young to remember any of this but maybe I learned something in one of my "fool-history classes" about the United States' refusal to buy anything from Asian countries. "Now everything we own comes from them. It's a sad day when our own country can't produce anything high-quality enough to entice its citizens to buy domestically." Something clicked in my mind and I thought to myself, "It's a sad day when Christians can't present Christ in a manner that entices our neighbors and peers to buy domestically." Is that why so many are looking elsewhere for the solutions to their problems? Is that why they are turning away from the truth of Christ? Have I failed in presenting an accurate, quality picture of my Savior? There really wasn't any way for me to bring Christ into our conversation by name, but I tried to look beyond the man's gruffness and unkempt appearance and acknowledge the loveliness he kept hidden because others didn't try to understand him. MA talks about the secular vs. the sacred. There isn't always or doesn't have to be a distinction. Talking to this man, valuing him, acknowledging him -- I think -- was allowing the sacred to enter the secular. As I prepared to drive away, he placed his grubby hand on my car door and winked at me. "Have a nice day, missy. Enjoy this beautiful weather."

A interaction I could have missed because my heart was closed to hidden beauty. Thank you, Father, for opening my eyes.

Switching gears now to something a little less spiritual...

a progress report on my dresser!!

Today I finished sanding. I am including a few pictures to remind myself of the work involved. I forgot to pick up masks for my face, so got creative and hair-clipped a pink pillowcase around my mouth and nose to prevent excessive sawdust inhalation. I know, I'm a genius!

Drawers sanded? Check!

Frame - Before

Frame - After

Mountain Dew - the breakfast, lunch and dinner of champions
I couldn't have done it without you MD

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