Monday, March 12, 2007

Paint

I had the privilege, this past weekend, to complete a project with some from my community o’ faith. We were giving a much needed facelift to a popular gathering spot in our building, the legendary “social hall”. Very simply it involved a new color scheme with some fresh paint. It wasn’t just any paint though. This paint promised to go on like yogurt. I was wondering, how does one know such a thing? I mean do high priced executive types try their hand painting various food textures onto walls until one is found to be desirable? Or maybe, quite by mistake, they have painted a surface only to have the experience transport them back to their days when they indeed used mom’s yogurt for a new creation on their bedroom walls. I have personally been found guilty, as a child, of painting my bedroom walls with a less than desirable paint substitute, although I don’t think that it would be appropriate to use as a new marketing campaign.
Anyway, this particular paint was incredible. For the most part it covered in one coat and was everything it promised to be. I’ve worked with much less. If it had been up to my spending, we wouldn’t have been using that grade of paint. Because of my personal bent for financial responsibility I can’t imagine paying for premium paint. In other words, I’m cheap. But you get what you pay for, and fortunately someone else generously donated it to us paid in full. When we were finished, there was a great sense of accomplishment. The room had been and will continue to be well used. After all, it is referred to as the “social hall”. It’s for socializing. The very name dictates its function. It is used for socializing. That’s kind of a wide open term. Basically, I think that it means practically any function from a formal wedding reception to a place that middle schoolers experience “tag” marathons. We have coffee houses, potlucks, and pancake breakfasts. It is well used and well lived. During the course of two days of very close inspection I found all much evidence of its use. There were stains. Dust gathered in unseen spots, raised by the turbulence of elementary age kids on sugar highs. One more coat of paint has now covered over one more era of socializing in the room meant just for that purpose. Each pass of the roller sealed in a few more memories. Each hole that was filled had a story.
The room was well lived, that is to be sure, but so were the lives that were restoring it.
All of us there had some background that we had come from, some struggle that we had come through, or some baggage that we are still carrying. We have well lived lives.
Its not that they were always lived well, but we were all well-lived. I think that you get the point. Just like the social hall, our lives were created to be lived. During the course of living, we get stained. We gather dust. Holes happen. We need repair and we need refreshing. A good coat of paint would be nice. Too often though, we settle for the cheap stuff. It promises greatness and delivers far less. Substitutes just won’t cover the real need and prepare us for the real use that is still to come. The real stuff covers though.
For me, the comfort comes from knowing that it covers, once for all. There are little touch ups all along the way to be sure, but in my life there will no longer be a need for an extreme makeover. It was painted over by grace years ago. In one coat, like yogurt I guess. It wasn’t cheap grace using a substitute. It cost everything to someone and yet nothing at all to me. All I had to do was accept it and allow it to be applied. It fills the holes and scatters the dust and eliminates the flaws of the past in one swipe of the roller.
It is said that grace covers over a multitude of sins. So does the right paint.

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