An Unexpected Illumination
“I’m standing in the living room,” my wife was saying, “and I’m looking up and I can see the sky.” Well, now. That’s not quite what I was expecting to hear when I leaped up from a meeting to answer the phone. Even so, that can’t be good. “Is anyone hurt?” I asked. “No,” she said. “I just thought you’d like to know there’s a hole in the ceiling. Now our sun room is truly a sun room.”
Lightning quick, my wife’s wit.
Eventually I made my way home, and when I came into the living room, I saw several young men who were related to me only via my bank account, all peering into the sky through that hole. “Good gravy!” I said. “Are you more children I forgot I had?” The perpetrator of the hole perceived that I had entered the room, so he came down off the stepladder, apologizing profusely. “Oh, sir,” he was saying, “I’m so sorry. When I heard someone scream it cut my heart that maybe I hurt someone.” And he continued apologizing. I asked him, not yet knowing what had happened, “Were you hurt?” He wasn’t hurt.
What happened was that the young man, who was working gainfully, employed by a roofing company to renew my south-facing roof, had laid a 70 lb. roll of something or other on a rafter, probably by habit. That particular rafter, however, was not willing to hold the roll, and it gave way, so that the roll was resting, instead, on my living room floor. When it thus appeared rather suddenly, as it would, my wife screamed in surprise, as one would.
He continued to apologize. All I could think, listening to him apologize, was how I had stumbled and bumbled in my days working on property. On any given building there are innumerable pipes, bolts, exposed nails, loose boards, and chicken wire to reach out and grab your clothing, to untie your boot laces, in tight spaces to turn your shoulders just so, to present you with any sort of quick challenge, some of which I failed, likewise, with catastrophic result.
Catastrophic. Really? The worst had been avoided, the probability of which was already quite low. We had a hole in the ceiling. Oh well. It will have to be addressed (at this writing, the boss man himself is overseeing the repair), but it was hardly catastrophic. Good neighbors, you see. One hand washes the other, in exchange for fees negotiated and renegotiated. Catastrophic? No, not really.
While the young man continued to apologize, my mind switched to a mantra: please don’t quit, please don’t quit, please don’t quit. I’ve been waiting a long time for the roof to get proper attention, but as you know, while good labor is always hard to find, any labor at all is nowadays hard to find.
I was also thinking how exacting we are with each other. By laying that roll on the rafter, did he sin? Hardly. He didn’t do anything morally wrong. I don’t think he was even careless. I think he was inexperienced. Now he is no longer inexperienced. So why the steady stream of prostration? An apology was appropriate, maybe, out of neighborly politeness, some word of conscientiousness. “Gosh, sir, I’m sorry; I’m glad no one was hurt.” That’s enough. “It’s all right, son,” I said. “Now we have a story to tell.”
Sometimes we assume that the other can carry the load simply because they always have done.
Sometimes we assume that the other can carry the load because they’ve chosen to stand in the load-carrier’s place.
Sometimes we assume that standing in that place was a choice, not a command.Report
In the absence of a Like button to click, just wanted to say that I enjoyed this anecdote quite a bit (thanks to the spammer for drawing my eye to it!) and will likely be stealing a couple of lines for my everyday use — especially “related only by my bank account”.Report
Agreed… good bank account line and ruminations on sin.
New proposed tag-line: Come for the carpentry stay for the semi-pelagianism.Report
No one would ever play 1v1 with Jesus.Report