Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Bench

Call me hopelessly romantic (or crazy!), but last night, after I’ve already gone to bed, I remembered that earlier in the evening I saw my neighbors’ old wooden bench on the curb next to their house, ready for the garbage truck. I couldn’t check it out when I saw it, so I just made a mental note to come by later in the evening and see if I should engage in a rescue mission or not. Of course, I forgot all about it until, well, until I remembered. So, I got out of bed, put my clothes back on, dragged my husband along, and under the cloak of late night, we picked up the bench from the curbside and brought it to our porch.

Do you want their kitchen sink, too?
He pointed at the pile of construction garbage, eying me suspiciously.

Nooo, just the bench! I chuckled, trying to appreciate his warped sense of humor.

It was too late and too dark to examine its condition right then and there. Our neighbors might have had a very good reason for getting rid of it. In daylight, the bench turned out to be quite beautiful. I discovered that the wobble we noticed while we carried it last night was actually by design, for it was a rocking bench! It had a nice shape, with a gentle curve on the back, and upon closer inspection, it revealed sturdy materials and solid craftsmanship.

You are gorgeous, I said, in accordance with my habit of talking to inanimate objects, Or, at least, you had been. Before the mean Florida elements took their toll and left you with cracked and peeling varnish, filthy and moldy. What am I going to do with you?

The first thing was quite obvious. The bench was covered with dirt so I grabbed a garden hose and wash it all the off. I tipped it back and forth and from side to side, until it was all clean and the pieces of loose varnish removed.

This is going to take a lot more than good cleaning,
I mused. It will require some serious elbow-grease, the scraping of the old finish, the scrubbing of the moldy areas, perhaps even some spot-bleaching… and then it would need a primer and at least three coats of paint...

That seems like an awful lot of work, I continued with the monologue. Are you worth it?

Part of me wanted to cut corners, grab a can of spray paint and finish the job, right then and there. I knew it wouldn’t be right. I knew it wouldn’t be lasting. But, hey, it would be easy! And then, in a month or two, the paint would peel away and reveal old cracked varnish, and grime and mold… and I would have to do it again… and again,… and again…

What a waste, tempting as it may be… I don’t have time or energy for that…
I objected.

But, part of me couldn’t bear to see the beautiful bench rot at the top of the city dung heap, when with some time and effort I might be able to return it to its former glory, prolong its life and ensure many years of delightful, useful service of refreshment and rest to our family, our children, perhaps even our children’s children and to all the weary travelers that our gracious God may send our way. It was up to me to make the decision...

What shall I do with you, old bench…? What should I do with you...?

No comments: