September 12, 2018
I mentioned in my last post that we are doing a pretty good job of beating up our RV. As if to prove my point, the very next day we sprang a leak in our bathroom behind the toilet. The leak was coming from the fresh water line (THANKFULLY) but that made it no less of a nuisance. It was as if the Winnebago (whom our friend Chad dubbed the Watson Winnie) knew that I had written about it and then sprang a leak just for spite. Watson Winnie, I’m sorry. We love you. Please stop being mean to us.
At the time the leak started, we happened to be at the home of our friend Kevin who is handy, and together he and Todd found the source of the leak and got it mostly repaired. (Hooray!) But the toilet itself is now anchored to practically nothing and wobbles like mad if you try to sit on it and is just inches away from wobbling too far and creating a leak again. But who needs a toilet on a cross-country RV trip anyway, right? (The replacement part that will cure our wobbly toilet woes is en route to another friend’s house, and when we get there we will hopefully be able to fix the toilet for good. And by “we” I mean Todd. Todd, the day we were married, as I stared deeply into your beautiful eyes, I thought to myself I just know that someday, this man will cheerfully and capably fix a dinky little toilet on the RV we will probably own.)
When something goes wrong in the Watson Winnie, we just do our best to get it back to normal. Todd has a friend whose RV leaked one day while the family was out, and by the time they came back there was so much damage that he had to rip out the floors and replace them. Whether for fun or because of what was available cheaply at the last-minute, he replaced the floors with, essentially, green astro-turf, and that’s how their RV looked for awhile. I can’t really decide if that would be a charming improvement or a horrifying eyesore, but the point is, they took the damage done to their vehicle and created something new. Unless there’s something Todd hasn’t told me, our toilet will still look like a normal toilet when the replacement part comes in.
But enough of wobbly Winnebago woes. On to our own adventures. After Kansas and the lesson of the bell pepper, we went and saw our friends Jake and Marcy in Iowa. They welcomed us with the yummiest, most iconically midwestern homemade meal: meatloaf with green beans, creamed corn, and mashed potatoes. It was one of the best, most satisfying meals we’ve had on this trip, and between the meal, the companionship, and the beauty of that particular evening while we sat on their deck, I wanted to never ever leave.
After dinner they took us to see the church Jake pastors in downtown Cedar Rapids. It’s in a cool warehouse-style building in a cool area of town — an area that was buried under many feet of water during the floods of 2008. The building had been serving a different purpose back then, but as we walked around the church, they pointed out areas that had been damaged by the floodwaters. They also pointed out ways that the building had become better and stronger since then, with new and improved electrical wiring and areas that had been rebuilt and remodeled. The floods had come and worked their damage, but even before the church came in and spruced things up, the building had not succumbed to its damage.
In their decorating, the church has incorporated a bunch of rustic-yet-chic corrugated metal and wooden planks throughout the building, adorning many of the walls. The materials looked like they belonged to an old farmhouse, and in fact they DID belong to an old farmhouse. As if floods had not been enough, a friend of the church owned a barn that was blown down in a tornado, and he gave the wood and the roof from the demolished barn to the church to use in their design.
Everywhere I looked, this church was designed in a modern, stylish, thoughtful manner. And seemingly everywhere I looked, it also told stories, including some of pain and loss.
What an incredible thing, to worship God in a place that is a visual representation of beauty from ashes. That building is not the same warehouse it used to be. It now carries both memories of destruction and the hope of restoration. And that’s the story of the gospel, isn’t it? Brokenness and pain, redeemed and made new by Christ. Beauty from ashes.
I’m not planning on looking at the toilet in our Winnebago as a shining reminder of Glory. Some things are simply functional, and toilets generally don’t need to be caught up in transcendental meditations. When something on the Watson Winnie breaks, we simply need it to be fixed, no bells and whistles necessary. And yet I know that, after traveling for several days with a barely-usable toilet, I will be immeasurably thankful for a working one once it’s fixed. When something is made new, even something as simple (and gross) as a toilet, my heart sings.
May our hearts always sing at the glimpses of redemption we’re given in the everyday moments of our lives.
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