I woke up early for a work session with my dear friend, Tilman. We were replacing the seats in my 1998 Dodge Ram. Strange encounters of the previous day made for an internal renovation more nuanced than removing a pair of seats, and a chill lingered in me. The sky was steely. White light fell upon half a ton of machine and two mortals burrowing into it.
Combing through the truck on my hands and knees, I reflected on a scene I had read in The Fellowship of the Ring. Gandalf is leading the fellowship through the Mines of Moria. With the dimmest bearings and glow from his wand, he traces the cleaner air. Like Gandalf, the wisest of me was guiding the weaker members of my constitution – my heart, like Frodo, holding the power. A darkness beset me, but I kept working, letting sincerity flow like water into every opening. ‘First of all,’ I said to myself, ‘this is all okay.’ The space inside got bigger. Personal agendas and manipulations probed like fingers around the ribs, but I looked at my own purchase in negatvity. ‘Nobody but me can take anything from me. My heart is my own responsibility.’
Tilman and I removed the seats, picked grimy coins out of the carpet and shards of glass from my window broken into a month earlier. We cleaned out the hollow shell of a cab. I imagined the truck in a distant future, rusting in some junkyard or perished in recycling. We had to drill through the floor to fasten the new seats. The drill took a long time boring through the metal. I was impressed that we were breeching a fundamental layer of truck. We ended up with redundant holes on each side, which we bolted to keep out moisture. I enjoyed breaking through the truck and sealing the holes with our own bolts. The seats will lock in again. The truck will grind on, one day break down, and our drilling and bolting will remain.
I pressed onward, reaching into corners, clearing thoughts and feelings until, like Frodo unscathed, I broke into the open. The passages of honesty led into a brightness of knowing this truth of John’s teaching: ‘all I really have is my weakest weakness, and everything in my control can pour into it.’ I apologized inwardly to the people I had judged. ‘Core honesty is all I need,’ and I stood, feeling the ground beneath my feet. Like the drill-holes and bolts at the base of my cab, the adjustments deep down would go unseen, but I know where they are because I did the work with my own hands.