House repairs | Inquirer News
ESSAY

House repairs

/ 07:19 AM September 08, 2013

One night, during a thunderstorm, our daughter was awakened by the sound of dripping water. She noticed that the drops came from the ceiling, passing through a slit between the panels. When told of this, the wife and I decided to have the matter looked into by our help, whose every attempt at sealing the roof just above the area of the leak, when put to the test by the nightly rain, fell short of the perfect solution.

We decided to call for a neighborhood carpenter, whose services took us a long time to bespeak, because he was the choice of many households needing repairs. But even he, when we finally got him, was baffled by the dripping that continued even after he had done a yeoman’s job on the roof, checking it for holes, plugging the smallest noonday star that appeared as he lay under the GI sheets. It was only when we decided to have a portion of the roof replaced that the stray raindrops disappeared.

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Still, the wife and I realized that our daughter’s room had to be put right. Time had turned the entire ceiling brittle, and conspired with the weather to array the part that was waterlogged with molds and blotches. The cabinets and walls hadn’t been repainted for close to twenty years. The floor needed tiling.  After exchanging glances — by way of mutual questioning without words, largely about finances, to which no definite answers were found — we decided to have the room tweaked as well.

And so, before the start of the work, the room had to be emptied, a laborious and complicated task. We did not know until then the extent of the acquisitions that had been jammed into such a small place: teddy bears of different sizes, each corresponding to the bigness that the girl had grown into yearly since birth; dolls, both blinking and unblinking; clothes, most of them now unwearable, but kept nonetheless as proof of the past; oddments from toy tea sets and miniature houses; and books — fairy tales, Nancy Drew mysteries, romances, and — because the girl is now a lawyer — the dark and heavy tomes of the law, with their excessively highlighted pages.

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We were grief-stricken, because we did not know where to put these items, and relocate the furniture in the girl’s room, to give the carpenter enough working space.  And especially because — again on impulse — we decided to have our own room next in line, and then that of the son.  Compared to the contents of these rooms, those of the girl’s are thin porridge.  Sure, we could fit them into the living room, but we would have to become snakes in order to move about the house.

We admit that we had failed adequately to plan for this little home project, which is why the logistics is a mess — both the moving of the furniture and the finances.  In the matter of this, we should have remembered Jesus’ admonition, although it alluded to a bigger enterprise — the construction of a tower.  “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’

What I find significant is that Jesus said this after declaring, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”  Upon reflection, I realize that when one decides to live a life worthy of one’s dignity as a human being, and a child of God, one has to undertake repairs in oneself — there are leaks in the way one thinks and acts that need to be plugged; the walls of the heart, in fact the heart itself, must be changed — a process that requires humility, an emptying — of inner furniture and baggage, which can so pile up as to weigh one down to almost drowning.

The repairs are a necessary cross that one must bear — much like the pain of discipline, which is infinitely more advantageous than the pain of regret. What is most propitious is that, as regards the sybaritic bric-a-brac and moral baggage, however mountainous, when one empties oneself and decides to let go of them, one does not move them from self to shelf. No need to worry about storage. Because a kindly and gracious Carpenter, to whom one surrenders one’s load, will take charge of everything.

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