I was painting the side of the house yesterday. This was a much delayed job but finally I took a deep breath and did it. Painting is at the top of my “most hated jobs” list. Working with silicon sealer and anything mechanical are two more detestable practices. However, painting has one good aspect, it allows the mind to wander. The greatest sermons since Pentecost and the most brilliant poetry since Shakespeare and Donne have been composed in my mind while whisking a brush back and forth or plying a roller. The downside being that I can’t write them down because the hands are otherwise occupied. That is why the world has missed out on these precious gems. They never seem to come when sitting behind a desk with pen or keyboard. Funny that!
Yesterday the mind went on one of those “one thought leads to another” meanderings as I was painting white on white. It started when I reflected on the time I first painted a house. I was a poor theological student (is there ever a rich one?) and being desperate for money I agreed to paint someone’s home. These wonderful people were bookish. Housework and tidiness came a distant last to reading and discussing fascinating topics. Looking back I now realise that the lady of the house was one before her time.
Years before Howard Gardiner’s theory of multiple intelligences became popular she was already teaching with this understanding. They were concerned about stewardship and “green” issues before most of us woke up to the havoc we are wreaking on the environment. This family went camping in national parks only using their wits while the rest of us went to proper camping places.
The most powerful facet of this family’s influence was that they lived this way as Christians while most of us lived a stereotypical middle class, materialistic church attending life style.
As I was slopping paint about I reflected that these people had influenced my life. They were one of the many “tug boats” that God sent over time to nudge, steer and challenge the direction my life has taken. They had broadened my mind and forced me to modify my thinking.
So yesterday as I was painting I was also able to send up a prayer of thanks for these people who, many years ago, affected my life. My hands kept on painting but my heart was giving thanks to God. I didn’t need a keyboard or a pen.