ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY:   Bootstraps vs. help

By PAT WICK

© Another Day in the Country

Be warned, the column this week isn’t a treatise on the subject of belief (or maybe it is?) It’s not a rationale for bootstrap pulling, either. It’s just me talking to you about what’s happening on another day in the country.

Ever since we lost Tooltime Tim, we’ve seriously felt the need to scale back. There were dreams that died with him, as happens to everyone with the loss of a loved one. Tim was our optimistic, gung-ho, fix-it man who would say, “Yeah, I can do that for ya,” when everyone else would back off, shaking their head.

It’s not that we don’t have other come-to-the-rescue guys in Ramona. We do. However, they are a rare commodity, much in demand, with a waiting list. The solution, for us, is less responsibility. We all have to do this eventually. It’s part of the package.

That said, we’ve decided to put several properties up for sale. This is not an easy decision to make. It’s hard! Building up is an easy thing in comparison to letting go.

Having a new idea, the next project, a goal, is an exciting thing. It brings a burst of energy and optimism — an adrenalin rush — that helps you accomplish the task.

I remember when Jess and I decided to remodel the bathroom at Cousin’s Corner one night and we started hauling, throwing, ripping away with immense enthusiasm. We stayed up half the night, working and laughing about our audacity.

“How many days till the relatives get here?” Ten. “Really?” Another fit of giggles. Wonderful memories.

We made the deadline, by the way, with Triple T’s help. Actually, it was our first project together back in 1999. Now we stand in the house and look around at this place that has become so loved and so familiar. This time there are no giggles.

Right before Christmas, visiting Santa Fe, N.M., we found ourselves in a little gift shop full of all kinds of things to tempt a tourist. Humor always grabs our attention, especially in the winter when things are bleak, and here we saw some candles with pictures of saints on the outside. I buy a similar type of candle for emergencies. They are meant to signify prayer, I believe, which is very appropriate for any time the lights are out. Multi-purpose. (And, I’m not meaning to be sacrilegious.)

We started reading the ingenious inscriptions on these candles and chuckled. A very clever writer, with a sense of humor, had done these.

“Look, here’s one for selling property,” my sister called. “A Saint Joseph candle is just what we need!”

But we had several properties for sale, which would obviously take more than one rather expensive, very cute candle that made us smile. (We were in Santa Fe on a not-buying budget.)

The candle idea stuck around, though, and as we drove home we talked about this. We like rituals. In fact, we believe in the value of rituals. (And I knew where we could get candles like that for only a buck!)

Yesterday, Jess called

“I’ve found all kinds of stuff on the internet about St. Joseph,” she said. “He’s the patron saint for realtors. You can buy a kit from this place with a St. Joseph statue, a candle to burn and even St. Joseph oil. There’s instructions of what to do to sell your property.”

She began to read. I listened.

“How much?” I asked. “That’s too much! You want a St. Joseph statue? I can make a statue out of Fimo clay. You want oil? What’s in it? I make scented oil all the time. I can do it.”

By the time she came by for lunch, I had St. Joseph figures in the oven baking and the oil on the table. I had a project. I could feel the energy building. This ritual could ease the pain of what we need to do.

I don’t know if you believe in saints or not, or if you hold any credence with rituals. I’m not trying to downplay or steal thunder from anyone’s sincerely held convictions.

I actually believe that lighting a prayer candle works. For one thing, that candle flicker, while fragile, fastens this event in our consciousness. Like life, we know it will burn, but only for so long. It’s also comforting, in times of distress, to appeal to something bigger than ourselves — no matter what we call that Presence.

Meanwhile, being a dyed-in-the-wool do-it-yourselfer, my mixture of cedar, cinnamon, and clove oil (per the online instructions) is still my mix, my recipe — as are all the notions we hold, whether they are shared by a congregation or just ours alone.

My St. Joseph has a long beard, and he’s holding a for-sale sign — I thought he needed that extra assist since he wasn’t coming via UPS. I figure when you are attempting something of this magnitude, you need all the help you can get.

Part of the ritual of releasing is to go around to all the doors and windows in the house and bless them with the oil — on all four corners. I was thinking that we should probably do this kind of blessing to all the houses we inhabit, a reminder of the precious qualities of home.

 

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