I was a child of the suburbs outside of Portland, where everything was shiny and new. But for as long as I can remember, I have loved older homes. I suppose it’s the character and aesthetic I find so appealing. But purchasing a pre-depression era home typically involves renovating the kitchen, and a complete build-out to achieve the elusive master bedroom inclusive of bathroom and closets. We were on our final renovation about eight years ago to gain a master bedroom.
Our painter was a born again Christian, which I suspect was due, in part, to his A.A. affiliation. He was certainly a nice guy, and the most reliable painter we’ve ever hired. Dennis was a talker, and he talked a lot about Jesus. Not in a proselytizing manner, but in a “The big J.C. is my B.F.F.,” sort of way. He knew Jesus on a very personal level. He might off-handedly remark, “I prayed to the good Lord Jesus today to ensure I could get the right paint color for you, and there wouldn’t be a big line at Daily’s Paint Store.” I was initially taken aback by all his Jesus talk. As anyone raised Catholic knows, we would much rather talk to his Mother, Mary. After all, she birthed him in a stable (yikes!) and raised the little tike. Raising the Christ Child could not have been easy. Who do you give the time out to – Father, Son or Holy Ghost? When you are the mother of God, you are certainly never allowed to take the Lord’s name in vain. That would have been really damaging to his self-esteem. As parents, most of us constantly second guess ourselves. Did I overreact? Did I underreact? What is the best way to address this issue? Imagine if you are raising the Christ child with his stepfather? The pressure to be a good parent must have been immense, two millennia before PEPs or parenting books could offer any guidance!
I was also a little confounded by the thought that Jesus had the time or the inclination to be concerned about my renovation. I figured he had more important things to be concerned about. But I must be honest, eventually I warmed to the idea. I started to believe that Jesus was playing a very personal role in our project. He not only cared, but had a divine opinion on whether I chose “Dessert Sonata Ombre” or “Late Tuscan Summer Corn Harvest” for my walls. By the time I had to choose bathroom tile, I was entirely convinced he wanted me to put the intricate mosaic tile behind my bath that would harken back to the holy lands he walked 2000 years ago. Replicating the marble tile from a villa in Rome for the floors became a forgone conclusion. Eventually my husband pointed out that Jesus was NOT paying for our renovation. I reminded him that I had passed on recreating the Sistine Chapel on the ceiling.
As we were winding down the project, Dennis showed up on a late fall day that was threatening rain. He insisted on painting the outside, which on a traditional Spanish style home consists of light colored stucco and very dark trim on the windows. I questioned the wisdom of such an action, on a day there would surely be rain. Dennis assured me that he had prayed to the Good Lord Jesus that it wouldn’t rain, so he could get our exterior window trim and walls painted, and move on to his next project. He felt certain the Good Lord Jesus would answer his prayer. “Very well”, I sighed. It was simply too difficult to argue against such ardent faith, and the Lord had done such a nice job guiding my renovation thus far. So paint he did; cream stucco, dark trim. He was efficient, and after a couple of hours he headed out. Suddenly, the skys opened up, and a torrential down pour made a chocolate ripple tie-dyed mess of the freshly painted exterior wall. I grabbed my phone and called Dennis. “Are you are aware that it’s raining cats and dogs right now?” Silence on the other end. “Dennis, what in the world was Jesus thinking?”