In a collection of sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, there is a one saying which is a brief dialogue between two abbas:
Abba Moses: “Can a man lay a new foundation every day?”
Abba Silvanus: “If he works hard, he can lay a new foundation at every moment.”
Well, I can’t say I’ve laid a new foundation every day, let alone every moment, but my wife and I did lay a new foundation yesterday, from 8:30 am through about 6:30 pm. It’s a cork floor made of interlocking tiles that we installed ourselves.
In the morning, we rented a table saw for the day from a nearby hardware store (the miter saw, which we had spied out the evening before, had been rented a mere 45 minutes after we left the store that night).
We actually didn’t get started laying the tiles until 10 am, because of our deliberations and worrying and second-guessing and recalculating. The beginning was excruciating, because we were having trouble getting the under-layer insulation to stay in place and getting the tiles to lock together firmly (with no gaps between them). We finally decided to try the block-and-hammer method, to get the second row of tiles to fit with the first row of tiles, and it worked. A couple thumbs were struck once or twice, but things started to come together.
On top of that, the Catechism Search Engine had some content delivery issues yesterday morning, which frustrated a fair number of subscribers to Flocknote’s “Read the Catechism during the Year of Faith” mailing list, and added a bit of anxiety and pressure onto my workload for the morning. Thankfully it was resolved in a matter of hours.
Despite not having used such wood-shop equipment since my high school days, I was able to successfully and safely navigate the table saw all day, with only one defect: the final piece we needed got a chunk taken out of it, so we had to substitute several smaller pieces instead. This was the most painstaking part of the project, because we had to cut out a rectangular opening for the floor vent. The small gap beneath the vent opening is the last piece we put in; there are two small pieces immediately beneath the vent (in the center and on the right). The long piece along the top of the vent is connected to the tile on its left; you may be able to see a tiny gap at the right end of the long narrow piece and the tile to its right. We put the final small piece in place, and it looked pretty close to perfect.
At long last, we put the air vent cover in place, and stepped back. It looked… right. It looked like we’d hoped it would. And even the hairline gaps between these carefully cut-out and squeezed-into-place pieces looked natural, like part of the cork tile pattern. All in all, the long and exhausting day was a win.
So, it was a rewarding endeavor, a tiring day, and we got our taxes done in the middle of it. And we celebrated with some local delicious Mexican food. With meat. (We’re not eating meat during all — well, mostly all — of Lent. Yesterday was a cause for some celebration.)
And, no offense to abba Moses or abba Silvanus, but I’d rather not have to lay this sort of foundation every day, let alone every moment. I’ll stick to the spiritual foundations!