These two guys had eight, handy tools surrounding them for easy access. I know because I’m watching them and count the tools wrapped around their waists as though preparing for a gun fight with the town’s villain. Sometimes this tool is used but now this smaller tool is needed for that sharp corner. In tandem, one outside and the other inside they perform their task and warn the other that the smudge is on his side.
I watch them while waiting for a doctor’s appointment (never read the magazines; who touches them except sick people!) as they diligently complete one before moving to the second. Their faces are task orientated and focused, one completed job only leads to the next one.
I walk into a hospital room knowing only an unknown name and possibly a diagnosis that I may or may not know. Another minister enters a prison cell wondering how he/she will be received. I’m stopped after Mass and a stranger says, “May I have a word with you right now?” You bring home your first child and wonder what you will do with this living, needy thing that needs housing for at least 18 years. (Even longer, these days!) You promised yourself that things would be different than the way you were raised but slowly you hear your parents talking through your mouth. (Ah, the promises we make to ourselves…) You find yourself “tool-less” as you raise your own child while nursing the parent who once nursed you. What do you say and how firmly do you need to say it? You say, “Dad, you simply cannot drive anymore. You need to admit it,” the same morning you gave the car keys to your son for the first time.
We don’t have John the Baptist’s leather belt to support us or the eight tools that the window washers so easily used.
I only have that “Hi” followed by anything and everything that follows; rarely with a solution especially for that tough corner of life no one’s been able to reach. I’m searching for tools in my head in milliseconds only to find that my eyes are listening and my ears are seeing the conflict or turmoil or pain. In how many situations are we all looking for the right tool for the right job at the right moment. (And, is there even such a tool?!) We all can only hope that the window to the souls of those we love may be ready to be seen through and somehow lovingly assure them that all will be spotlessly clean and somehow “okay.”