Monday night I pretty much hit the wall, after working nonstop for twelve hours, preparing the floor, and I ended the day by hitting the sack — late. Work tends toward that, a flat ending, following a familiar line that gets you there. The energy line goes something like this: it rises up on inspiration, peaks at perspiration and dips at last into mind-numbing exhaustion.

The job I was on was to restore the old oak floors at the church. The mission was to beautify the world, the vision to create sacred space in which people might be inspired to know God, the question after more than a month of slaving: Was it worth it?

Yeah, it was, but to see that, I had to look past tiredness, I had to overlook the imperfections in the floor which we, as we worked, lovingly referred to as “character,” and I had to imagine a better future, a future in which people will walk in the doors of this church, love it, make a home there, on the floors, and do nothing less than, transform, renew, refinish — like the floors.

The whole process, the original “bright” idea, the collaborative, “lets take a look,” the peek under the old, stained carpet, the discovery of the distressed but still beautiful oak floor, the equipment rental, the sanding and more sanding and more sanding, the realization that we didn’t really didn’t know how to sand an old oak floor, the sanding again, the choice of a finish, the realization that it was the wrong choice, the process of choosing again, the final floor prep, the flawed first coast, the better second coat, the still imperfect third coat, the still imperfect but last-shot-in-order-to-leave–enough-dry-time fourth coat of poly.

Wow! The putting of the pews back in, the screwing them down in the old holes, the standing back, the asking of the questions, the interestingly different responses. It is so interesting, people’s response to change. For those who didn’t engage in the process, the first blush is often negative, in odd and inaccurate ways.

“I think it will be loud.” It wasn’t. “Shoes will put black marks on it.” They didn’t. “It will be hard to clean.” It isn’t. “I hope I don’t fall.” Nope, not slippery.

But when all is said and sanded and coated, there are the encouragers, the perspicacious, appropriate responders: “Awesome job! It looks great! It is so clean! It is brighter in here! This was the right thing to do! I love it! Thank you!”

I not sure how I feel; it’s a mixed bag of emotions, from “we could have done it better” — my own form of negativity — to “I am so glad I had the courage to make this happen!” Yeah, that’s how I really feel.

Life is like that; it’s a push and a stretch and a long hard row, that changes the world, that revisions spaces, that refinishes reality, that makes a possibility for better to be created on top of better.

What’s next!

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