An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
The west side of the cabin is perched along a fairly significant incline, which makes setting up the ladder to install the gutters more than a little precarious at times. Once I'd finally found my first "secure" set of footings, I climbed up to the top of the 12 foot beast (rated to JUST BARELY support me) and set about attaching the supports to the fascia. The first time I drop a screw I may mutter a word of discontent under my breath, but knowing more screws remain in my possession, I press on with little time wasted. A second screw dropped into the unsearchable collection of thick forest debris will at least warrant a head shaking. The fact that my attempt to recover the screw from the cruel grasp of gravity caused me to also drop the gutter hanger leads to a full sigh. If it means I must climb back down the unsafe ladder, I might even let a naughty word escape. Once I've repeated this cycle ten or so times, I begin to wonder if gravity does not have some personal vendetta against me...a grand universal conspiracy must surely be at work.
On the last section - indeed the most dangerous one that requires a bit of leaning out from the center of gravity - I lose my very last screw, just as I thought it had grabbed the cedar fascia and was secure. It tumbles to the ground, and surprisingly I can still see it laying there, laughing at me I am certain. This is not just my last screw in my work belt pouch, it is absolutely the last screw between me and a trip to the local hardware store.
Suddenly it starts to rain. Tired of the up and down treks I've already made, and being naturally lazy, I call out for some assistance from the fruit of my loins - rather certain that if I took my eye off of the screw I would lose it. No help to be found...the rain has driven them into the house. Down I go, and as I do I once again drop the gutter hanger and in the process of watching it fall I lose track of the screw I so desperately needed. I'll spend a good 15 minutes in the rain looking for it.
Then on the way up the ladder, my Makita driver slips off the top rung and tumbles toward me, bouncing painfully off of my forearm and then down to the ground - scaring me nearly to the point of soiling myself. And in my spastic panic to avoid being hit in a more sensitive (i.e. deadly) spot, the ladder slips and for a brief moment I thought I'd surely suffer the same fate as had so many of my tools and supplies throughout the last couple hours. Once the ladder steadied itself, miraculously, I could not handle the frustration anymore and the words flowed from my mouth as if a dark version of the Azusa Street Revival had befallen St. Brigid's Farm. Pretty much nothing was left unsaid and I'm rather certain I silenced all animal life within a radius of several miles. It would color my whole day.
Not long ago my wife and I were discussing the seemingly overwhelming sense of frustration we have been experiencing lately. It occurred to me to wonder what exactly frustration is. I think, in essence, it is what you feel when you want something and don't get it. Arising from the belief that "things" should go your way, but they don't. That I should grow so upset at something as inevitable as gravity perhaps says a lot about me. Taosits teach that we should find a state of harmony with the Tao and the world around us and I think they are right in the sense that we do in fact need to reach a state of "apathia" where frustration is something with which we are utterly unfamiliar. Where instead of a litany of cuss words, we look down at the lost tool and say non-chalantly, "How unfortunate." And then go and get it. Sounds simple, but there is much more at play than can be seen with the eyes.
I've met people who are not easily frustrated, and it is impressive to watch. People who are easily frustrated (like myself) are rather...well....ummm, they are rather FRUSTRATING to watch. It's no too dissimilar to a 5 year old throwing a tantrum.
It reminded me of this verse from St. James' epistle.
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? But He gives a greater grace Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." Submit therefore to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
James: Ditto what Bob K said about being careful. Your description of your adventure was very colorful and it was easy to picture. I'm sorry but I had to laugh. The laughter for me was enough to lift me spirits in an otherwise miserable evening. Thank you.
Mention of a chainsaw makes me recall the charmed life of my father's boss, some 40+ years ago. He was up a tree pruning branches with a chainsaw. The trigger was tied back (!) for ease of operation, to rest the hand, right? In the process he managed to saw off the branch he was sitting on. So began the bouncing tumble through the tree, with the assurance that the chainsaw was somewhere around him, also falling, merrily roaring away. He and the saw eventually landed apart from one another, or he would have been apart from himself...I hope Guardian Angels get a star in a sidewalk someplace. -- Bob K.