Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sweat, Sacrifice and Love

The tiny studio that made its way from my dreams to a drawing pad sometime last winter, captured the imagination and heart of my son, Trace. With spring came his determination that the studio would become a reality and in the glow of autumn color it is. In early spring came a Saturday surprise of cinder blocks and 4x4s. I might have been able to stop right there. Just seeing the footprint in place seemed to satisfy something in me. But the dead tree that needed to be removed spurred a level of activity and added a sense of excitement to the project as if it were actually leading to something real.
This morning, as Trace and my daughter-in-law, Susan, set about another day of labor on my behalf, I was, quite simply, overwhelmed.
Every step of construction had seemed to be a kind of completion in and of itself, the day the floor was set, the day the walls were framed, the day the exterior sheeting was finished. They were great moments and there was great satisfaction. And between each step, there were long periods when life would return to normal and the little building would sit quietly and wait.
But this week, when the gable ends went into place with my crazy oval window cutout, the ridge timber set and the rafters perfectly cut and spaced, a different kind of excitement took place. There was celebration of accomplishment with great smiles and "job well done"s. But there was to be no familiar pause between stages. With the oncoming rain, here was suddenly a rush to dry it in and the hurry felt uncomfortable.
The work on the roof was genuinely difficult. It began each day at first light and continued long past dark and something in me ached for the labor that was being done on my behalf and without my help. I've spent all evening thinking about this; what was the source of my ache, my discomfort? And, as I've pondered the matter, I've continued to see my son's face as he kissed me goodbye this evening...exhausted, sweaty and smiling.
Just a few minutes ago it came to me.
What a silly thing. How seriously we take our roles in life. How many years do we labor for our children? How many sleepless nights do we spend as they step awkwardly toward adulthood? Somehow, the birth of our children prepares us for those things. But what in life prepares us to relinquish that role? At what moment do we recognize that it is they who will labor for us and they who will spend sleepless nights as we step awkwardly toward old age? My moment was today.