My Lord, What a Morning

What are the chances that on the same morning one decides to sleep a few extra minutes and one’s car is a ten minute walk from the house, one would discover dampness seeping through the ceiling tiles in one’s apartment and gathering in puddles on the floor?

If the chances are unfavorable, then I beat the odds today with just such an unfortunate discovery. I had my coat on and my bag packed, and had to drop everything to frantically clean so that when someone came to look at the leak they wouldn’t immediately assume the apartment had been ransacked. After a surprising phone call from a maintenance guy announcing “I’m outside of your building…can you let me in?” I dashed home from work just before lunch.

As we were going into the apartment he told me that the upstairs apartment had an overflowed sink which had caused the drip and the water damage. I was immediately embarrassed that I hadn’t knocked harder on the upstairs neighbors door to ask about the leak in the morning. “I wish you had told me that on the phone, you could have saved yourself a trip”, I apologized.

He looked up at the dry-but-stained ceiling tile, and then back at me with a look of astonishment. “Don’t you want me to replace that?”

In all honesty, it would never have occurred to me to replace a perfectly good yet hideously ugly ceiling tile. I think my initial response was “geez, if I replaced everything in this apartment that was ugly I’d have my hands full”. On my way back to work, after leaving with an agreement that he’d replace the tile (and some others that have been stained for years), I had to laugh at myself, even calling a family member from whom I inherited my tendency to stick it out with the not-ideal-yet-functional.

The desire to conserve resources is a trait that I am stuck with, as evidenced by the watch with a cracked face that I have been wearing for over a year. I could think of worse traits to have. In so many ways I am hung up on beauty – I love liturgy, poetry, music, architecture: all things that rise and fall on the aesthetic. Despite this, I don’t make always make beauty a priority in my own life, or even make it available to myself. Is there part of me that takes pride in doing without?

The truth lies somewhere between the two poles. I don’t need to live in luxury, but I don’t need to live in squalor either. I still am trying to determine how I can be hospitable to myself, making my life more comfortable and beautiful. It may require money, resources, and time. It may require mental commitment to treat myself better (on some days, I think it may require therapy).

During Advent, we look forward to something we can’t predict or understand with firm hope that it will be better than what we know. I think I get lazy sometimes, putting my own transformations on hold while I wait for that something better. I consider myself an imaginative person, but can’t always imagine improvement. There’s certain virtue in being content with what one has, but it needs to be balanced by a vision of something even more beautiful.

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1 Response to My Lord, What a Morning

  1. I think I would get the ceiling tile fixed because it would affect the way I view my home – you can get used to living in a building site though, as I have. It took me six years to refurbish the house and I think part of the problem was that i got used to not having a kitchen or carpets etc etc….!Your post makes me think about "luxury", which I think is a tricky subject! Been debating this with friends recently…seems the over-riding consensus is that to be luxurious something has to be opulent and expensive. I'm not so sure…I don't wear jewellery, apart from a watch and my wedding band, but I do wear a leather scapula. When I put it on in the morning I get a sense of completeness that I relate to luxury and that brings me a sense of joy too. I do own many nice things and I have travelled first class, but I felt more comfortable in economy, knowing I could spend the difference on something worthwhile when I got to my destination. OK…if I'm being honest, the watch I wear is a horrendously expensive gift so maybe I'm kidding myself because I am comfortable in the first place? On the other hand, I still relish the thought of waking up on Christmas morning to find a sock full of fruit and nuts at the end of my bed if I stay with my folks because that was what they thought of as a luxury when they were younger and things like fruit and veg were still seasonal. I guess I need to feel that something is useful as well as beautiful to gain a sense of luxury from it….any thoughts?

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