Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
– Psalm 90:12
Question: What sounds like a good thing to do when there are only a few days remaining before vacation and literally scores of deadlines looming and there is hardly time to breathe let alone get ready?
Answer (well, according to my wife): “Let’s dismantle, strip and refinish the antique dining room table.” Be honest, was that the very first thing that came into your mind?
Our 16-year-old niece Sarah was visiting and Rebekah thought it would be a fun project. I’m really not involved but I have been observing and it really is interesting.
The stripping is an intensive and messy process. And it’s especially gunky when there is more than 100 years of polish, wear, stain and dirt to remove. The antiques people call it patina. As someone sporting over six decades of wear and tear myself I appreciate the richness and character.
Character may be who we are when no one else is looking, but it’s also what we are left with after the world has worked on us and worn us down. Challenging stories speak to our character and at the same time produce our character.
So this dining room table project is more than refinishing—it’s redemption, restoration, rejuvenation, reclamation and reanimation.
We all have experiences that have marked us, sometimes broken us, taken away the finish we had when we were younger and even made us question. But now they help to define us. While I welcome the rejuvenation that comes from God I don’t ever want to stop learning from my experience.
“Please don’t insulate me from this world, Lord,” I pray. “Instead, equip me to help facilitate its healing.”
There is a sense that, as I ease into this stage of my ever-evolving life, there is a richness here I would not/could not have known absent six decades of wear and tear. So go easy on the reconstruction and the renovation, you don’t get patina like this overnight, you know!