Not Quite Finished...
This past Saturday I had one goal in mind; to repaint the front porch and the area around the garage. With the usual naivete, I figured it wouldn’t be too big of a job. I set about the job of scraping off chipping paint, sanding it down, and Gianna followed behind to wash and wipe down. (Saturday mornings are working mornings - Gianna was the lucky one to help mom!)
As you can guess, this process took longer than expected. Followed by a delay in dropping Drew off at a friends, followed by a further delay in picking up the paint. Apparently, everyone else has the same idea to paint on Saturday! When I finally returned, Tate was ready to help and we got started.
We continued to work steadily with the sporadic kid interruptions and nursings scattered in. Unfortunately, Johnny tried to get a little too close to the action and in an effort to avoid the porch walked through the mulch and knocked our Blessed Mother statue over causing her head to come off! Disaster! (She has been repaired and good as new now.)
The last task was to roll the ceiling of the porch. Daylight was fading, we still needed to make dinner, and the girls both had volleyball games we had to get to. We mustered our remaining energy and set our minds to finishing the work before us. It was a whirlwind of rollers, grilling and cleaning up before rushing to the games. Although we were wiped out, we took comfort in the fact that we were done and looked forward to our day of rest on Sunday. Or so we thought.
Sunday morning rolled around with an extra hour of sleep to boot! I was ready for a day with serious amounts of time spent on the couch relaxing. After coming home from Mass, I walked out on the porch to admire our work only to discover the job was not complete. The entire porch ceiling, which had looked so good in the fading light, was in obvious need of a second coat in the bright morning sunshine. There were also the other missed spots here and there that required tending to. Crash! There was nothing to do but get the paint stuff back out and finish the job. If I didn’t do it then, I didn’t know when I would find the time and motivation.
Thankfully this second coat took much less time. The porch is now looking good. However, my dream of a restful Sunday was certainly interrupted.
As I was reflecting on this experience, I thought of my own soul. I am a work in progress that is not quite finished. So many imperfections to chip away, a hardened heart to be sanded down and made smooth, and a soul soiled by sin in need of God’s mercy to be wiped clean. God will do the work, but I have to make the time to allow to Him to complete it. As he works, I will have to endeavor to keep those areas He has touched looking good. I also need to avoid any delays, keeping my eyes and heart focused on Him.
Even when I may think, in the fading day of my life, that His work is almost complete, I may find when I am bathed in the light of Christ, that there is still work to be done. Spots not quite finished. A heart in need of a second coat of God’s love. Just as I knew that I still had work to do on the porch, I will know there is still work to do on my soul before I can be with God in heaven forever.
This is the beauty of the Church’s teaching on purgatory. It is a final gift of God at the end of our life for any remaining imperfections to be burned away. We will want all that keeps us totally from Christ to be wiped away. Only when that happens will we be able to rest with Christ.
As I mentioned last week, November is a month to remember our dead. To ask for the prayers of those who have gone before us and are in heaven, and to pray for those who are still burning away their final imperfections in purgatory. It is also a time to remember our own death, and set our minds and hearts on preparing our souls to be with God. Our goal should always be to go straight to heaven. This is going to require much sacrifice and penance in this life. Earth is not our home, heaven is our home. As Christ tells us in the end of our Gospel this weekend from Luke, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
I must have the heart and the will to persevere. I must be humble and admit that I am a work in progress. I must admit that I cannot complete this work myself, only God can, but I must accept the gift of His help. I also cannot see with my imperfect vision all that still needs to be done.
The porch is done, thank heavens! The work on my soul continues on. I can either help in God’s work by turning my life over to him completely and spending quiet time in prayer so that He can really set about His work. Or, I can delay, by focusing too much on the worries and fading pleasures of this world. When my time on this earth comes to an end, what I focus on now will determine how much work still needs to be done.
Lord, I know you are not finished with me yet. Give me the courage and desire to ardently prepare myself each day to be with you forever in heaven. JMJ