Sunday, February 16, 2014

Roofer's Apprentice

This is the house as it looks now 25+ years later.  I suspect that is the roof we added.

     When Pat and I had been married a few years, we lived in a small cape.  We had three young and energetic sons who caused a considerable amount of chaos.  This story is not about them, but I mention them so that you will understand the depth of my husband’s desperation.
     It was summer and Pat had been working at replacing the roof on our house.  It was Pat’s first roof and he worked hard. He stripped the old rotted plywood and shingles off and had taken the roof down to the rafters.  Pat and I were young and in love, and perhaps a little bit clueless. We joked about the new “skylights” and the open air feeling the house had.  Our neighbors shook their heads and warned us to finish quickly because we would be in a world of trouble if it rained.
     The sun did shine on us for almost a week.   Pat had been busy.  The new plywood and tar paper was on and he had started the shingles.  The back side of the roof was complete, but the front hadn’t been started.  Unfortunately, a storm was due to arrive in the evening and now the pressure to finish was on.  If we were to get the roof finished that day, it was clear that Pat needed help, my help.  And that is how I became a roofer’s apprentice.
     I shakily climbed the ladder to the sharply pitched roof.  Pat ordered me to sit down and for heaven’s sake, not move.  No problem there.  He scrambled back down the ladder for supplies.  I surveyed the distant ground below.  My boys played in the yard with the babysitter.  The roof was much higher from from up there than it had looked from below.  I considered how graceful clumsy I was and wondered if this was really the best idea.  Perhaps one of those blue tarps would suffice to keep out the rain.  To my great consternation, the ladder disappeared.  I heard some clanking and banging on the other side of the roof, but as obedient as ever, I did not move.  Finally, Pat came over the peak dragging a rope.  Not just any rope.  This rope was about four inches thick.  It could have been used to safely anchor the Queen Mary.  My beloved tied the rope firmly around my waist, leaving a long tail of it so that it could be adjusted as I moved up and down the front side of the roof.  The remainder of the rope lay heavily on the roof and trailed over the peak.  Pat had tied the other end to a large tree on the opposite side of our yard.  Take a moment to appreciate how ridiculous this looked.  I had a rope that looked like an anaconda wrapped around me with one end trailing off the edge of the side of the roof I stood on and the other end slithering over the peak and down the other side of the roof, from there the rope clotheslined it’s way over to a sturdy tree at the far edge of the yard.  There was no way I was going to be allowed to fall off the roof and leave Pat to raise our three terrors on his own.
     So we shingled and hammered, in those days before nail guns.  We made a pretty good team.  As the day went on, I became confident moving about the roof with my life line.  The only time that I slipped was when I tripped on the rope.  The last nails went in as the sky shadowed with gray storm clouds.
     That night we tucked our boys in bed as the rains poured down and the lightening flashed, and we celebrated the roof over our heads and the blessings that God so freely provided.
     The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?  One thing I ask from the Lord,
 this only do I seek: 
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
  all the days of my life, 
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
 and to seek him in his temple.   ~Psalm 27: 1,4
     Isn’t that a wonderful thing?  To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our life.
     All the days -

  • Even the ridiculous ones.
  • Even when the storms are coming and the pressure is on.  
  • Even when we are walking on a slippery slope.  
  • Even when the ground is no longer safely beneath our feet.  
  • Even when we come to the end of ourselves and the end of our rope.  
  • Even when we walk through the shadowed valley.  

     Surely, even then, goodness and mercy will follow and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

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