Saturday, May 2, 2009

Finding God at the Hardware Store and the Holy at the Kitchen Sink

So, celebrate with me!! This past Wednesday, I turned in the final paper of my M.Div. degree, an epic that I have been sharing in bits and pieces here on this blog. I now understand that I could write a book, as I had a start on one with this paper—it was perhaps longer than anticipated, but when the professor said, "Don't leave any of the good stuff out," it just kept coming. Graduation is two weeks away—I have my cap and gown.

In the past several days, I've tried to remember what it's like not to have school work to do. On Wednesday night I stopped at a bookstore and bought three fat science fiction and fantasy books, and got burritos to go. On Thursday evening I raked the winter's debris from part of my yard, and on Friday morning remembered that I had not been doing that sort of exercise in a while.

Today, I think I may go to the hardware store. Last weekend my letter carrier chided me for not replacing the broken handle on the screen door: "you can buy a new one for nine dollars at the hardware store, and if you don't, your screen door is going to get all messed up banging in the wind." You see, I had removed the inside portion of the handle because it was stuck in the locked position and was locking me out of the house. When I'm inside, my jury-rigged solution is a rubber band around the outside handle over to catch on the door frame, and perhaps he's tired of being shot by the rubber band every Saturday for the past ten or twelve weeks. The UPS guy has figured out how to pull open the door and slip packages in, but the letter carrier doesn't try.

The screen door is not the only thing that needs attention around the house. I have been making a list waiting for this day, this week, this summer. But the last five years have had an impact, and I came across this poem as a witness to continued theological reflection.

A Hardware Store As Proof of the Existence of God
Nancy Willard
from Claiming the Spirit Within: A Sourcebook of Women's Poetry, Marilyn Sewell, ed., Boston: Beacon Press, 1996

I praise the brightness of hammers pointing east
like the steel woodpeckers of the future,
and dozens of hinges opening brass wings,
and six new rakes shyly fanning their toes,
and bins of hooks glittering into bees,

and a rack of wrenches like the long bones of horses,
and mailboxes sowing rows of silver chapels,
and a company of plungers waiting for God
to claim their thin legs in their big shoes
and put them on and walk away laughing.

In a world not perfect but not bad either
let there be glue, glaze, gum, and grabs,
caulk also, and hooks, shackles, cables, and slips,
and signs so spare a child may read them,
Men, Women, In, Out, No Parking, Beware the Dog.

In the right hands, they can work wonders.

This poem in turn reminded me of a song from this iTunes playlist,
"Holy As A Day Is Spent" (Carrie Newcomer, The Gathering of Spirits).
I quote only the first stanza, and I commend the rest to your listening:

Holy is the dish and drain
The soap and sink, the cup and plate
And the warm wool socks, and the cold white tile
Showerheads and good dry towels

And frying eggs sound like psalms
With a bit of salt measured in my palm
It’s all a part of a sacrament
As holy as a day is spent
~Carrie Newcomer 2001

So, I am planning for a holy day, because there are also dishes in the sink waiting, and then hope to find God, or at least a screen door handle, at the hardware store. But these are wonderful reminders that God is present with us in all that we do and all that we encounter.

My prayer for today is that we each are able to savor our meetings with God and the holy in the everyday things: the dishes in the sink, the good dry towels, the plunger, the brass winged hinges, the screen door handle, and maybe even in the new doorbell. The sacred is always present and I invite us today just to notice its presence, and let it work wonders in our hands, and always in your life and in mine.


  1. Excellent meditation!! And I read it on my holy day which means like you I have a day to finish at least one book. I almost have. It has not been easy. I had a meeting at Starbucks, but my friend forgot. Luckily I was going to grocery shop right after but I spilled my oatmeal all over me. So I skipped the shopping and came home to nap and read. Since then here have been moments to battle during the day. I have tried hard not to pick up the lawn mower, and have succeded. In six minutes Ronnie's Small Engine shop closes. Now I am trying to give myself reasons why not to fertilize the lawn and kill the dandelions. What time does the sun set? I think God should have made winter, and not summer, with the long daylight hours; at least for today. In a few minutes I will walk out to the paper holder at the edge of the street and try to ignore the "good stuff for the lawn" bag I bought at Agway last week.

  2. Small successes. I installed the new doorbell that I purchased at the hardware store and it works.

    And even though the new door handle did not fit existing holes and my drill didn't come with a 5/16 metal drill bit so that I could drill a new hole to make it fit, I had the inspiration (God being present even in this) that the back door screen door handle could be swapped to the front screen door. Since the hydraulic door closer still works on the back screen door, it wouldn't matter if the back door latch didn't fasten.

    And PB, my dandelions are looking lovely with the forsythia and purple tulips and lavender creeping phlox.