The church itself soothes moments of doubt

Our story so far: As we prepared the blank slate in the old Methodist church we were renovating into our home, the 95 percent of demolition that was dirty was beginning to wear us down.

# # #

After weeks of demolition, we were practicing self-therapy.

“Wow, we’ve made so much more progress than I thought we would.”

“Well, we knew the belfry had problems. It’s no surprise to us.”

“You know, we can bring in an expert to discuss headers if we need one.”

“I need a break, too. Breaks are good. We can’t work seven days a week.”

We needed to be cheerleaders for ourselves because everywhere we looked, we were surrounded by dust and old nails, and around every corner was more to do. As Tyler walked contractors of various sorts through the building for quotes, more than one said, “You have quite a project here.”

Anyone who’s ever done a remodeling project already knows: Many contractors cannot be depended upon for anything, but least of all, encouragement.

Right about then, we took to heart a battle cry uttered by master carpenter and host Ben Napier in an episode of HGTV’s “Hometown,” who surely had faced mammoth home remodeling projects of his own: “That’s the way the great ones all start. People doubt them. Everyone doubts them, and honestly that’s how I think you become great. You prove them wrong. You prove the doubters wrong.”

So yes, it was a big project. Thank you for pointing that out. We were going to persevere and invite the doubters to the open house to show it off when we were done.

Patience sign
Patience is a virtue.

I also was attempting to let the church itself reassure to me during those quiet moments of uncertainty. There was this sign left behind on what was perhaps a Sunday School room door: “Please be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet.”

And the message painted over the inside of the entrance, to be seen by exiting parishioners and witnessed by me every time I carried another load of tools or wood upstairs or downstairs: “Go now in peace.”

go in peace sign
Sending forth message.
peace banner
On a background of falling snow. How could it be more perfect?

This was reinforced by a little quilted banner I found among the Christmas decorations which said simply “Peace.” I brought it home, washed it gently (more gently than the poor Wise Man I’d defaced) and admired the excellent stitchery. And the appliquéd bell. It had a bell! This gem would find a spot back in the church.

And then there was the rock at the foot of the flagpole. I’m not sure what it was telling me but I found it compelling. It might have been a image of Moses with the Ten Commandments (or half of them? See? Moses was a writer, too), but it might also have been a saint or a significant Methodist figure. I think he was sticking out his tongue. I did a reverse image search for it on the computer, and I learned it was a relief, that is, a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background. I went literal with my findings, as in “relief,” a feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress. Finding the church and working on it a little bit every day could be considered a relief: We found home.

flagpole sign
What a relief.

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Tomorrow: We make like Geraldo Rivera and go on an expedition. Read about it here.

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