The hermit and helper are in process of fixing and finishing the front porch. This morning we worked patiently at shimming up the side porch to coincide with the front porch, already completed by Raphael and his workers, last summer. The side porch had to be put "on hold" so that the hermit could frame in five more windows.
So we tediously used cedar shims and got it all level one direction on the floor joists, and width-wise level, as well. Tomorrow morning, God willing and bodies able, we will set some posts as the porch is being widened to make it more utilizable.
And utilizable is just what this consecrated Catholic hermit, in its nothingness before God, so desires to be. Utilized by His Real Presence: this is the hope, offered in faith and much love.
The details matter, and this hermit is trying to pay attention to the details of its soul and life. It is striving to listen to His Real Presence and to observe and "read" the details of messages that come to us in our everyday lives as well as in the night. (Even at night, my heart consults me," sings the Psalmist.)
So yesterday when at the bank (which is quite a trek for the hermit who rarely leaves the hermitage) it asked the kindly teller to please call Raphael's phone number. This would assure that Raphael would return the call. And he did, and this time he was yet more ashamed for not returning the hermit's previous calls a couple months ago.
Raphael stopped by a bit ago. He started to get into the reason he had fallen off his otherwise wonderful character and goodness as a man and a Catholic, at that. He felt very bad about his worker who did not do the job the hermit needed doing, accurately. (Pride can get to us more than much else.)
Stairs must be measured carefully; steps cannot be off an eighth of an inch. That eighth of an inch grows then, so that by the top step, the stairs' "run" is two or three inches too long, and the treads and risers just keep getting more and more "off". The mind instinctively sets itself to the rise and tread of a step, and it is quite dangerous to not have them all the same. That's what can cause falls. That is why there are strict codes on stair treads and risers, as well as distance from doors.
It is like our spiritual lives, our souls, our thoughts, our actions. Just a little off, and the next "step" in life is thrown off, as well. In not too long a space of time, we find ourselves stumbling or outright falling.
Anyway, the hermit emphasized to Raphael that the past is over, and that the hermit paid the worker. This hermit's goal is present moment and making progress, but also doing things as best possible. So it bought more lumber and measured accurately, and cut, and the stringer boards are all set to be hung properly, with metal brackets that are code. No hard feelings, and the work done by the worker has nothing to do with his being a good person or wonderful man. Stairs are very tricky. Craig and others at the lumberyard assures that seasoned contractors come back for more wood when building stairs!
And that was the lesson for the helper and hermit this morning, while shimming the porch floor joists. At first we laid out the shims carefully, leveling as we went, on top of the larger 2x2" boards that were running the length of the joists. (There was a lot to raise up on this side of the porch.) Then we realized it would be better to have the small shims underneath the 2x2" pieces.
So we removed the 2x2's, and we put the smaller shims on top of the floor joists; then we put the 2x2's on top of them, sandwich style. Then we used exterior, thin deck screws to secure the "sandwich" down to the porch floor joists. The porch floor boards will then be screwed down, across the shimmed joists. Victory!
Yes, taking the extra time to remove the small shims from the top and placing them in the middle of the "shim sandwich" cost our patience and the hermit a bit of hourly wages. But it commented to the helper that if we make a mistake or think of a better way to do something, it is best to take the time to correct and re-do. He agreed. He is a quiet lad, a spiritual lad, and we grasp the spiritual good despite 50 years' difference in age and life experience.
Raphael asked the hermit if it was going to be getting up on the porch roof to install the rest of the siding. Well, yes. Who else? And it has it's young helper, of course. But Raphael somehow decided he'd like to do that for the hermit and at a very moderate price. And the hermit, if it had it's 'druthers, would 'druther Raphael finish the siding. They had sided all but this last bit of porch section and above porch roof, and they had done it beautifully.
So next week Raphael and men are coming to finish the siding and will put in two roof vents that the hermit was not at all eager to attempt, particularly on the one roof angle that is steep as any roof can be.
Yes, the helper and the hermit will not have siding experience in our construction resume, and we could do it, for sure, but some fun things we just have to share with others (and admit that they have oodles of experience at their craft). The hermit and helper have many other tasks to do. This little bit is not going to cut into the helper's earnings or learnings.
God bless His Real Presence in us, and God bless Raphael for moving beyond the hard feelings when the hermit let him know way back a few months, the one worker was not working out. We all have to just keep the focus and swallow our lumps, put the past behind, and get the job done.
And this goes especially if not most importantly, in our soul lives.