Contemplative Life

Reflection On A Construction Dumpster

“It is time.”

These are the words of beginning for me and I know that I’ve come to a beginning when I hear them inwardly.  My wife and I heard them almost a year ago the summer of 2014 concerning our house. It was time to deal with the leaky bathroom issues, and she had a vision of what could be.  By mid-December, everything was in place, including our Christmas-red construction dumpster, spruced up for the season.

I wondered whether I really needed a dumpster. We were only tearing out a bathroom and a closet and modifying a couple of other spaces. Surely we won’t fill it up, I thought.   A dumpster could be useful, I guessed, to prevent a daily run to the dump.

But what do I know?

We ended up taking our bathroom completely down to the floor joists and studs in order to level the floor, anchor the walls, and go after a bit of mold and mildew.

Deconstruction is messy and noisy.  The tools are pretty simple: sledge hammer, pry bar, and saws. Brute strength is handy too. There were lots of bangs and bumps and saws cutting into things. The house shuddered multiple times over several days. All that was hidden was revealed. That which appeared solid to me was not necessarily so and those parts that appeared reusable to me were not to our construction team.

What do I know?

Our team was working under a master plan and they knew just what had to go and what could be saved. We were working beyond mere repair: we were working toward complete transformation. The dumpster filled up.

Meanwhile, my wife and I were living in the kitchen and a small bedroom. Our other non-construction spaces were filled with stuff. Christmas came and went; so did New Years and Valentines. We entered Lent with its reminder on Ash Wednesday that we are dust and to dust we will return. Dust gets everywhere during construction. I was beginning to feel like we were returning to dust, one hammer blow at a time.

Jesus taught in parables, using every day situations to explain deeper spiritual truths.

At some point during construction project I realized that my life was in the midst of a deeper, spiritual project.

It occurred to me that our Lord is the master builder and he has plans for me. The good news is that he wants to work with the “me that is” to make me a son in His family. In doing so, He wants to take away my attachments and the false self identity I hold so tightly to so that he can rebuild. I needed to go down to the framing and even there in some cases I needed some additional support. In this case, just like my bathroom floor, I needed to be leveled. His tools are the spiritual disciplines, including confession, reflection, spiritual direction, and prayer. The Holy Spirit is the skillful operator.

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