I have been doing a lot of varnishing on Sojourner. Yesterday, it was chilly but sunny enough to put a coat on the bowsprit and a couple of other places that had unvarnished teak.
I like the shininess of the wood. It has a deep rich hue rather than the grey of weathered teak. Inside, there is a satin finish but once again, I prefer the bright glossy finish. So today I have been doing as much varnishing as I could.
I take deliberate strokes that go with the grain of the wood. It is mesmerizing work because progress is readily apparent. I could keep doing this work for a long time, and considering that I have a lot of wood inside and out that require multiple coats, then I have many more hours to spend.
Just these simple tasks are something that I derive pleasure from. I seem to have a lot of patience with the boat--much more than I have with most people. Learning to be patient is something that I pray about. It is one of the traits that I can easily let lapse if I am not aware.
Patience is often the practice of not doing anything. I need to keep my mouth shut when I have only negative things to say. Fortunately since being in Al-Anon, my capacity for patience has at least marginally increased. If only I could learn patience faster!
If my ego can simply take a shellacking and I am not plagued by haste or impatience, then serenity prevails. There is a simple little story that illustrates this in a particularly poignant way.
"One morning I discovered a cocoon in a bark of a tree, just as a butterfly was making a hole in its case and preparing to come out. I waited awhile, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life.
The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole trembling body to unfold them. Bending over it I tried to help it with my breath. In vain.
It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of its wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear, all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.
The little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience, for I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm."
(from Zorba the Greek, by Nikos Kazantzakis)
This is a great reminder that improving my attitude and state of mind takes time. Haste and impatience can only defeat my purpose.