“Everybody lies,” he said and laughed.

Cynical, I thought. Too much time working in the Social Security Fraud department.

Now I don’t, disagree.

They do — lie.

We do. I do. We lie first to ourselves. We don’t and even can’t tell ourselves the whole truth about ourselves.

The truth about myself?

Recently, my wife reminded me that I tend to be dominant. It’s true. So does she, thus we make a great match —  two really strong people not easily told what to do. It works for us. We don’t — and can’t — run over each other very much. And so we allow for a fair degree of autonomy and independence in the relationship and we talk a lot, process a lot, keep everything current — criticism and praise. That is how we can tell we love — we’re honest.

But when other people tell me the truth about myself, sometime I deny it. Why? I’m not sure they love me, know me, care for me, and I fear motivated feedback, manipulative feedback, especially the negative stuff, but even sometime the positive. What are they trying to get from me with their frothy compliments?  Such guardedness, such suspicion,  closes me up to others,  but sometimes others —  even strangers and casual friends —  know me better than I know myself.

Simine Vazire, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, has discovered that we are better at assessing our “own internal, or neurotic traits, such as anxiety, while friends are better barometers of intellect-related traits, such as intelligence and creativity.”

Cornell University social psychologist David Dunning, PhD has found that, “People overestimate themselves.” The least competent performers inflate their abilities the most,” seemingly based on ignorance of their own abilities.

This seems to be in part a cultural phenomena. Americans tend to overrate themselves; East Asians tend to underrate themselves. Sounds about right. In American, everybody gets a star in school.

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for American overconfidence lies in our tendency to avoid giving each other feedback. Many of us are really quite closed when it comes to giving and receiving feedback. We tend to hide our assessments of other and ourselves — particularly negative assessments  — to gain a surface and veneered aura of public peace and acceptance.

We seem too much afraid of each other, and not skilled at delicate, nuance conversations that can promote deep bonds. We hold back, then gush, then attack, then hide; we are passive and aggressive, and we spoil things.

I can tell this is happening because people are always telling my something about someone else that they won’t tell that person. Triangulation seems rampant in our society. It is because we are chicken! And because we simply won’t face and do what works. Honesty works. Dishonesty — it doesn’t.

My bother told me a while back he thought I was a bit of an elitist about food and technology and material stuff. It stung, I considered it; then I told him. “You’re right, I am.  Sorry I offended you with that. I’ll work on it.” I am, working on it. We are closer now.

Can we do this with each other?

We can.

I’ve finding more and more that it is best to “go there,” and let other go there too, to bring up the issues that lie between us, to invite conflict, to gently talk about difference, early, before they inflate. It is best to be honest. It is best to be open. It is best to realize that I need others to properly assess myself. If I include them, then I can can get better at important stuff — at truth, at love.

Lies don’t work. Ignorance doesn’t work.

What works is gentle, safe, loving, ongoing dialogues about what is true — that works.

It’s hard to tell if you have done a thing.

Well, not always.

Yesterday, I trashed one of my Christmas angels. I knew I’d done it because I could see it. Unscrewing the motor that ran her wings,  pulling the bulbs off her trumpet,  stuffing her head first into a dumpster — it was fairly definitive.

I told her, “You’ve served well honey, but you’re done. Rest in peace — in the dump.”

Then I put the body parts I had harvested from her in a drawer in the garage — ready if needed — to patch up my other angel, the one lighting up my driveway these Christmas nights.

It’s done, the body’s gone.

Not every body is like that.

Forgiveness is not like that. You do it, you dismember the offender in your mind, you dump the body in the river Lithe, and then it floats to the surface again, bloated and horrible in the backwaters of your mind

“What? I just can’t get rid of this guy!”

That is because forgiveness can’t erase the past. It was what it was and forgiving someone doesn’t dispense with the memory or emotion of their offense — the attendant regret, the sadness, the anger.

Forgiveness is no eraser.

Then what is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is keyboard, a keyboard that can write the present and also write the future.

Forgiveness is the agency that allows us to positively address the issues of the present without being controlled by a residue of anger and resentment from the past.

Forgiveness is the ability to love again.

Sometimes we think we haven’t forgiven because we haven’t been able to dismember the bodies and tossed them in the River Lethe. But getting rid of the bodies is not forgiveness.  They won’t go. We will lug our heaviest offenders to our graves with us.

Forgiving is not forgetting; it is thriving, while not forgetting. We know we have forgiven when we find ourselves harvesting a special awareness and sensitivity from what we have learned from our past wounds and bringing that into the present to love and care for others again.

Forgiveness is the freedom to enter the present with fresh eyes and an open heart and ready hands.

Sometimes you can tell you are doing a thing when you are doing it without thinking of the things that could keep you from doing it.

With divine assistance, choosing to exist existentially and exponentially within the forgiveness available to you, forgive the dark angels and the even darker humans of the past; do this by taking loving care of the bright ones of your present.

Up and running.




It was the REFINERY Church — last Saturday morning  — and it was humming. The place was literally swarming with activity.

Walking through the site that morning, I realized that a vision had been realized. Ten years ago we set out to take an under-utilized and physically neglected church and turn it into Google. Google is a place where people can go and do what they need to do — find information, accomplish something, better their lives.

REFINERY Church —  the same. Ten years ago, when we began to cleanup, remodeled, up-date the church, we also decided to functionalize it. And as we improved the site, we also turned it into a platform for our community to come to and do good. We  gave the church away by allowing other non-profits with the same vision — a vision to empower people —  to come here and do their thing.

And now it hums.

Sometimes we now tease that everybody has keys to the church. Who are all these people in all these rooms?  We barely know! Over 20 non-profit groups now use the church. Over six hundred people per week pass thorough the site for some kind of benefit to their lives — recovery groups, mental health groups, foster care groups, family groups, study groups. We offer counseling. We give away food twice each week to hundreds of people. REFINERY is a venue for voting, parties, area school events, worship services and weddings.

Last Saturday reflected this state of affairs.In the sanctuary a band from one of our partnering churches was practicing for Sunday worship.

In the courtyard a team of young church families was digging out an area of sod to create a space for a new, larger play structure for children.

In the Gallery — a midsized meeting room —  a team from an partnering church was huddled around a table planning a holiday meal for homeless friends.

Another team from a partnering church readied the same room for an afternoon baby shower.

In one of the classrooms, Grossmont College was holding a class to train foster parents.

In the Counseling Center a Center For Enriching Relationship’s therapist (CER is a partnering nonprofit Christian counseling group) was meeting with a client.

In the basement a team was prepping to give out food from a fresh rescue program to families who are food challenged.

Out front, along E Street a team — led by the REFINERY gardener — a team of volunteers was trimming lantana and wiring up a new drip irrigation system.

That’s site empowerment, that’s healthy, that’s good, that’s the kind of good God wants for his church.

Good is when we open to teaming with other; good is when we give away what has been given to us; good is when we allow others to have the opportunity to do what they need to do to be empowered.

Good is God reaching out to our community though us.

“You don’t have to decide anything yet,” I told her in the car.

She was quiet.

I had noticed that she was a bit shut down at the picnic. “Were you afraid?”

“I felt insecure. I felt a little lost.”

“That’s okay,” I reassured her. “We’ll go out for the Christmas party and see how things go then. That will be fun.”

“I want to get a drink,” she said.


“Hot chocolate.”

“Oh, at the Christmas party, okay.”

We had just left a Sunday afternoon picnic at a live-in community for people with disabilities where my daughter was a guest. We’ve applied for her to live there. She isn’t sure. We aren’t either.

“One of the things that scared me is that some people were crying. One girl just started screaming. It was random. Then another one. It kind of freaked me out.”

“Yeah, I said, I get that.”

She lives in two worlds, one disabled, one abled —  or somewhat abled — seeing none of us are without issue, without compromise, not the norm in some way. This creates a dilemma. Where does she fit?

In both; in neither. She is marginalized. She is disabled, but able, high-functioning, crossing back and forth between two communities of people.

It’s tough, but, in a way, we all have some of this, a bit of marginalization, a bit of fitting and not fitting, the need to find our people, not being able to do that, the need to find where we belong, feeling uncomfortable in the search.

Finding community can be tough. I’ve thought about it lately. Mostly in life, I’ve made the people I got my people. I think many of us have done this. We make friends with the people at hand. Who else is there?

We chose to befriend the people at work, next door, at the store, at church, at the temple, in school, because they are the ones there.

It’s actuality, this is the normal way in which community works. We make a neighbor, our neighbor,  a community our community, by choice, at least at first, because they are near.

It’s not alway easy, or comfortable, or secure, community building, but it’s something beautiful and special, choosing what you get, choosing the option most in front of you, not because it’s a perfect fit, but because you make it fit.

Some wise people, thinking about exactly this, have called this love.

“I try not to ascribe motivations to people,” my brother said to me. It tried to go past me, the nonjudgmentalism of his reticence. Quiet responses often do.

I love to attribute motive, quickly, with not much information — many of us do.

“We don’t know what they are thinking,” our realtor said to my wife and I. Our realtor was talking about the buyer we were trying to sell our house to. Our realtor was right. We didn’t know the buyers frame of mind. We didn’t know his aesthetic, his price point, his cash on hand, his shopping culture, his end game.

I’ve heard this a lot lately, people admitting what they don’t know about other people.

“We don’t know his people skills.”

“We don’t know what triggered this.”

“We don’t know why she did that.”

The truth is, when it comes to each other we are often in the dark, and the light we shine on each other with our “take,”  our sense of them, our labels — these often miss the mark.

“Oh, yeah, she is a conservative,” someone says, as if that explains her.

“He’s left wing, she’s hurt, he’s an addict, she’s stuck, he’s jealous, she’s angry” — we just can’t stop assigning motives, explain away each other, attaching labels, as if then we have them, in our grasp, “the little rats,” and can disagree with them, or fight them, or dismiss them.

Am I saying we shouldn’t?

I’m saying we do, a lot.

We judge — even if we are told not to. And there is not much hope for us not judging.

It’s just that we might do well to realize that figuring someone out isn’t the same as assigning a label, and it is often much more complicated than their one “screwed up” thing.  Motives are complicated, even sometimes contradictory. Motives are convoluted, multi-pronged, obfuscated by so much smoke, so many mirrors.

Perhaps it would help to just work on figuring ourselves out, or at least leave the “helping” or figuring out others to doctors and professional therapists.  Perhaps it would help me, and most of us really, to simply turn more away from critiquing others  and focus on our own motives, spend time on our own confabulations. This is probably the only route to real change — when change is needed —  the intimate, personal “Aha,” the “Wow, so that’s going on with me,” some interior, existential epiphany that is so needed.

“What’s driving me?” or “Why did I do that?” or “What am I getting out of this?” — these are good questions and figuring such things out can be quite empowering and healing. And understanding ourselves better can point toward some new stuff, new adventures and even perhaps new and better understandings of others.

But assigning motives to others, I’d personally like to move away from that more and more.

I’ve been learning from some of  my trusted friends that attributing motives to others — that is a bit of a fool’s errand.

The item number was wrong. The bin location was wrong. The website section for checking stock availablity was down, and the phone center wasn’t taking calls “due to high volume.”

When I spoke to the employee behind the info desk at the store about these issues, I said, “Wow, everything seems so organized here. All the nice stacks and rows and numbers, but I couldn’t call or web you to get answers.

“It’s all a beautiful facade,” he quipped.

We laughed.

It is.

IKEA is a beautiful facade

I know.

Last week, when I bolted and screwed the black dinning room table we bought from IKEA together I noted that it all worked well, the screws went in tight, the bolts grabbed nicely, but the surfaces were thin. A micro layer of pretty black paint covered the  Swedish and Russian pine; a thin layer of Ash was glued over the particle board legs.

IKEA is one of the largest furniture companies on Earth. It uses about one percent of the world’s total supply of lumber and sells something like 100 million pieces of furniture a year.

It specializes in veneers and paint. Lots of beautiful facades. Like life.

One could be cynical.

Our new, glossy table won’t be passed down to children or grandchildren. When we move we’ll either give it away, or toss it in the trash.

And yet, and yet veneer — it is at the core of beauty. Beauty is always a surface — a thin soft layer of skin, a sheen on hair, gloss on lips, a momentary sheer of kindness.

What beautiful thing isn’t limned, surfaced, textured, smeared, glazed, laminated or plated?

Virtue, character, principle, integrity — all pieces, all sheen, yet all gorgeous, even if only for the moment, in the instant, for the season.

Are we too denigrate everything because it isn’t an heirloom, perpetual, solid, through and though? Really? Even hard substances are made of particles; the whole shebang is atomistic.

When we moved recently, we gave away our solid oak antiques. We were tired of the tired, old, solid look. And the kids didn’t ‘t want them. Shoot, you could barely sell them on Ebay.

Life has an MDF kind of quality to it anyway; it’s a particle board universe. It’s a hundred million pieces. Even the galaxy is bits and pieces, here and there; solid then fragged again, it’s best look is perhaps the one seen from a great distance.

I love life!

I love the not solid. I love the facade!

It’s the nature of the shinny beast!

IKEA world, here we come!

I’m selling a house and remodeling another one that I’m moving into. This has put me out in the market place, doing business.

Everybody wants their cut. That’s one way to see it. The business dealings seem impersonal, often out of control, with people I don’t know, people who are taking my money. The price is what someone else says it is, for the termites, for the repairs, for the Escrow, for the new flooring, for the countertop fabrication.

The other day my wife met the buyer of our property as she was coming out of our house with her agent. My wife coming home to her soon-to-be not-home. You are not supposed to meet the buyer. You deal with them through your paid representative, your agents. They remain invisible behind the paper, offering and counter offering through intermediaries.

But my wife met the buyer, they exchanged pleasantries, she is a person, a nice person. She too is selling a property, and buying one at the same time. She too is just trying to wisely make her way through this deal.

The market place can feel simply contractual. It’s really personal. Our buyer has her own anxieties, perhaps about paying too much, perhaps about dealing with the needed repairs. In her new home she may not be able to afford new hardwood floors like we can.

This week I met our countertop estimator. He drives an older car. He is not the owner of the counter top company; he too has needs, a schedule, a family. He may not have granite in his kitchen.

What posture might I strike as I do business with him, with everyone I sign contracts with? I am tempted to only be concerned about myself, my money, the best deal I can get, my time, my schedule. But I am dealing with people, people just like me. They have the same needs that I do. Many of them have more needs than I do.

What to do?

I am learning to see contracts differently. They are relationships. I am moving toward wanting the good of the other, not simply myself, to pay what is asked, to pray for the person on the other side of the table, sometimes to even give more than asked, bonuses, tips.

Life isn’t just business. It’s people. It a people business.

I called my dad today. He’s 91 and doing well. He still works; he moves furniture at the retirement campus where he lives.

I caught him up on my life.

I’m crazy busy with transitional activities — selling a home, moving, completely remodeling another home, supporting my two daughters as they transition into adulthood, helping plan and support a succession process at my work.

I always try to get my dad to tell me what he’s been thinking about. He’s a thinker, a very spiritual person, philosophical, a reader, idea-centric.

I thought I’d get nothing this time but then out it popped. He’s been thinking about the “quietness of God’s presence.”

I asked him what that means.

He said, “I can’t sleep at night. I wake up. I don’t know what to do so I just enter the quietness of his presence. I don’t say anything. I don’t pray. I just worship. I’m dumb before him.”

I like it. I told my dad I like it; I do. I can’t imagine why I’d like this right now, but “hmmm.”

He finished up by saying, “In the quietness of his presence the answers will come. When I don’t know what to do, I just wait. The answers will come.”

I’m so busy, and so not quiet. I’ve been so anxious of late, slammed with the tyranny of the processes I am currently caught up in. I’m so in need of the quietness of The Presence.

What a fresh-breath idea from my old, quiet papa!

I hung up the phone, with our mutual “bye, bye’s” and a good sense of what to do next.

Ever tried to do something, and it didn’t work?

I recently got some nice portabella mushrooms out of the frig to grill and had to throw them away.  

The mushrooms had grown hair!

It’s weird, but I prefer my mushrooms, like my babies — bald.

This week I drove to a meeting only to find it had just been cancelled —  by text —  but I hadn’t looked at my phone for a half-hour and didn’t know that. You don’t check this  (hold up mobile phone) every 15 minutes — you’re history.

Then last week my daughter and I went to our backyard to clean it up and we got so frightened we had to run inside and call the fire department.

I often experience “failure of purpose.” 

And this … has led me to a startling and unexpected conclusion: 

I’m not God! 

Wow! How disappointing.

 And you aren’t either.  

But here is the truth.

Isaiah 46:9-10, God speaking says:

I am God, and there is no other;

    I am God, and there is none like me.

I make known the end from the beginning,

    from ancient times, what is still to come.

I say, ‘My purpose will stand,

    and I will do all that I please.’

God is so different from me. He can do all he pleases!

He can clean up the backyard.

Isaiah 46 is called the book of comfort. It is Isaiah’s words addressed to the Jewish exiles returning home from Babylon. 

After sending his precious ones into exile for their idolatry, God is bringing them home again to Jerusalem.  

Why were they exiled? They had looked to Bel and Nebo, Mesopotamian and Canaanite gods of fertility and wisdom for help, not the one true God.  

And so God said to them, “No, I alone am God. There is no other. Only my purpose stands.”

In other words, God was telling them, I am sovereign.

To say God is sovereign is to say he is in control and that his purpose will be fulfilled.

And what is God’s purpose?

His purpose is clearly stated at the end of Isaiah 46, in verse 13. 

I am bringing my righteousness near,

    it is not far away;

    and my salvation will not be delayed.

God’s purpose is bring us home, from exile, to return us to himself, and make us righteous. 

I spent a good deal of time during July painting the inside of a house. 

I hate paint!

Paint won’t mind. Paint loves to migrate. 

Pry up a paint lid and the paint will literally jump out, and fly onto your hands, up your elbows, onto your face and into your hair. 

Paint reminds us that … we are not sovereign. 

Paint is sovereign! 

No, God is.  

Rev 21:4-6 confirms what we read in Isaiah 46. 

“I am making everything new!” …says God in Christ. “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true … It is done. 

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.

God, is in control of newness, of cosmic paint, of the end product, even when we mess up. 

And, like Israel, we do mess up. 

We bow to the modern, mini-gods of success, image, health, money and work. 

But  God alone … can save. 

He can paint justice where there was oppression, and righteousness where there was sin.

God is sovereign …  and … He is good.

Why add good? 

Why add, “He is good.”

 Because his power can make him seem scary, and some theologians have taken sovereignty too far, and have claimed that God even wills and ordains evil. 

They extend his sovereignty to everything.

But, this not correct. 

Evil is something we do, not God, with our free wills. 

And here is where sovereignty gets quite mysterious.

What is God responsible for and what our we? 

Scripture tells us God is sovereign and yet it also clearly indicates God has given us free will.

This is not a sermon on free will, but when Paul writes in Romans 14:12 that “each of us will [have to] give an account of ourselves to God”  This clearly indicates we have agency, and will be held responsible for our actions.  

It’s quite a complex mess really … and when we add in nature’s role (earthquakes, viruses, dangerous beasts) the whole sovereign thing gets even stickier. 

Last week — as I mentioned earlier — my daughter Rosalind and I were working in our backyard picking up old baseboards we took out of the house. 

Some of the wood was under a roll of carpet we had thrown out, so she asked me to move the heavy carpet. 

I picked it up and underneath, right at my feet was — a diamondback rattle snake!

I went airborne.

 In one-half a nano second Rosalind and I were back inside the house. 

And the equally terrified snake was … back under “his” carpet. 

Life is out control!

Three phone calls later, the fire department came, and they calmly caught the snake with their pincher stick, and put it in a bucket and took it away. 

 I love firemen!

They told me. “Yeah, the snakes are good. They control the rodent population.”

Sheesh!  I’d rather have furry little mice and Ratatouilles.

“Snakes, why did it have to be snakes!”

And the terrified snake is now saying, “Humans, why did it have to be humans with a pincher stick, and a bucket!”


 Because our sovereign God decided on snakes as part of a healthy natural ecosystem, and then he let them go … where they please!

God is sovereign, but he is also wild, and he made a wild, free world. 

And that wild world is not safe, yikes!

I am learning something else I don’t want to learn. 

God is in ultimate control, but that doesn’t mean he that he micromanages life to be easy or perfectly safe or just what I want.

I think the hardest part of sovereignty is when things don’t go my way.

I want no snakes!

I want no problems!

But the world God made is empowered, wild and free — fires, bacteria, poison beasts, poison people.

And so from a wild, beautiful, snaky, diseased, idolatrous, sin-sick world we cry out Papa, help!

“Oh great God, come save us within this dangerous-beautiful world!

And here is where we can gain hope.

As Isaiah recorded, God saves, he restores, and he brings us home.

And it is in Christ that God works out his ultimate sovereignty and his salvific purpose.

Colossians 1:17-18

 He [Jesus] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

The salvation promised in Isaiah 46, and confirmed in Rev. 21,  is completed in Christ. 

Jesus is the supremacy and sovereignty of God and by his death for our sin, he has cleaned up our back yard and he will remove the snake!

Jesus fulfills God’s purpose in us — and we are best when we look to him, no matter how out of control life seems. 

My brother Steve has cancer. Many in our church pray for him. 

I asked Steve recently, “How do you pray for yourself. 

Steve wrote back his answer on Friday night:

“How do I pray and live?

 I don’t ask for the cancer to leave. 

I don’t even ask for a mitigated, lighter response.

I ask for God to help me not be a grump, to be thankful and kind to Joyce [his wife], to keep my mouth shut or think and pause a bit before I speak because I am in such an agitated state [because of the chemo, Benadryl,  and steroids].

I am asking God to help me live into the values or ways God calls me to live, Thy kingdom come not mine. 

I’d like to be healthy and not have bruises up and down my left arm & hand from doing yard work.

 I’d like not to be up right now, in the middle of the night. 

I’d like to carry the idol called health and image, the one most bowed to here in Southern California, but it ain’t happening.

[But, he finishes] I do believe God will bring good to me during this season.”

Steve is rejecting the lesser-California gods of health and image. 

And he is rejecting the false notion that he is god, and can control his life. 

 Steve is looking to Christ to fulfill God’s purpose in his life.

 Bruised and battered, Steve is living Romans 8:28, for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Using our free wills wisely, we can align with God’s purpose, and pray to be loving — no matter what is happening — and choose to whine less. 

Do this: Choose no other god than God.

And do this. Believe that God is sovereign.

He is sovereign over mushrooms, meetings, paint, snakes, California culture, our bodies, our souls —  over everything.  

God, has got it! 

God, has got us! 

God alone will save us and brings us home from our exiles.  

It is a great mystery, but we, his people, through God’s sovereignty, will be okay. 

I am God, [says the Lord] and there is no other.

Isaiah 46:9

Reality — you can learn something from it. You can learn how to work with it.

First you must accept this: Stuff will resist.

Time and money are particularly ornery. Estimate how long a project will take and how much it will cost, then double that and you might be close — or still a bit shy. Cost is like shaving cream in a can. Press the button and it expands in you hands. Time is like a cumulous cloud over the mountains; it billows into the stratosphere.

Then there are objects — put them to work and they will war with you. You pick up one thing and other things move with it. They jump, fall, dive and zipline together — usually in the direction of the floor, and chaos.

Take long, stingy things —  they are the worst! They knot, wrap, tangle and snag. Garden hoses are particularly uncooperative. Walk anywhere with one, it will reach out and hook on a door knob, a sprinkler head, a plant. And it gets worse. Hoses are also kinky. No matter what virtuous, moral and cooperative nature was claimed on the cardboard they came with, they bend back on themselves and resolutely refuse to give water, until you walk over to them and give them what for.

And then there is the dry stuff —  it gets on you. Sawdust, Splenda, flour, sanding dust — they are the worst. Sand a cabinet, the dust generated will cover the walls and floors and blinds of your home. Dust loves your hands, your face, your hair; give it a chance and it will go for your lungs, and try to kill you.

Wet stuff, the same — extremely irritating. Take caulking, take paint — it wants to go, to be free.  Pry up a paint lid and the paint will run, jump and fly up your elbows, up your neck and into your hair. Water, it covers over 70% of the planet, and wants more.

What to do?

Make friends with reality, as it really is — volitional. Accept this. The material world is full of will, intention, agency — and conspiracy.  You are in less control than you think. Stuff will have its way!

The answer, the way to sanity, the route to hope — it lies in letting stuff go about its business as it will.  Let stuff have its say, its day, its moment in the sun. Let it act, as it will — and be dangerous if it must — where it can do the most good,

Dollars, hours, hoses, flour, paint  — you have to work with them; you have to let them resist. Then you have to be nice; you have to talk sweetly to them; you have to talk them into helping. And if you do, they can help you renew and restore the world!