Friday, September 24, 2010
Just When You've Given Up
The images you see above represent a genuine, honest to god miracle. Let me explain. The first photo shows a patch of roof rot. This rot has been letting drips of water into the interior of our RV. We live in this RV. We love it, we love the RV lifestyle, we love our home (which is named Raven).
Three years ago we hired a man to repair this leak, and he spent a day atop Raven, caulking this, sealing that, fixing our problem. So we thought. We paid the man nine hundred dollars for his work. We were a bit shocked at this figure but we had no choice. That was the bill. There were materials to be paid for, there was
his hourly labor rate, etc, etc.
We lived in all innocence for two years, feeling secure, feeling that we had no leaks, that our roof was solid to the elements. A roof leak in an RV can be the worst sort of disaster. It can quickly destroy an RV. One day you're living or traveling happily in a vehicle that might have cost a lot of money. If a leak spreads under a roof's rubber top layer, the rot can eat away at the roof like a termite colony.
Last winter we had very intense rains. One day in February I was doing some exercises on the floor in
our front room. I was on my back looking up at the ceiling and I realized that there was a grotesque stain
about two feet square just above the driver's seat. Its irregular shape was a much broader pattern than
the initial stain that had alerted me to the leak three years ago.
The "RV tech" who had repaired our leak three years ago had not done a good job. He had spread
some sealant, cut as many corners as possible and took our money. Now I was staring up at disaster.
I climbed atop our valiant motor coach and inspected the afflicted area. I crawled on my knees feeling
the roof with my fingers. There was good solid normal RV roof on the right side. But on the left side,
just above the driver's seat, the solid roof changed to a spongy expanse. It was soft and mushy, it was big,
and my heart plunged to my ankles. I knew I was contemplating a stark choice. Repair the roof or lose the RV.
Roof repairs are notoriously expensive. RV roofs have their unique requirements. An
RV roof needs to be flexible because it covers a vehicle that sways and bumps and bounces. RV roofs
require special materials. The roof on a motor coach is like a layer cake. The layers include plywood,
three kinds of rubber sealant, aluminum struts, special flashing and stuff with names like "contoured seam tape". All this stuff is held in place by aluminum molding which is screwed down by self tapping screws.
My wife and I couldn't begin to afford the repair of this roof. Estimates ran from two to three thousand. There was no way we had that kind of money. I felt like I was beating my head against a wall for eight months. Every other kind of life problem dropped on me at the same time. I won't delineate. You know the drill, you've all been there.
The rains seemed to want to come early this year. By October it would be too late.
I took to praying to The Grandmothers. These are deities to whom I was introduced by my wife. My wife was introduced to The Grandmothers by our friend, whom I will call The Sage.
Who is more comforting than a grandmother? Who has more wisdom than The Elders of the tribe of humanity? Why not, I thought, pray to The Grandmothers? As a child I adored my father's mother. I imagined her loving face in the circle of all the other Grandmothers when I prayed.
My prayer took the form of song. Every morning I did my exercises and finished them with my prayers to The Grandmothers. "Oh Grandmothers," I sang, "thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed upon my family. Grandmothers, we are in trouble now. It may not be the biggest trouble in the world, but it is OUR trouble. The frustration I feel as a man is like a searing flame in my heart. I want to provide for my family, o Grandmothers, and I am failing. I have tried so many ways to improve our lot but none have borne fruit. I have so many gifts, Grandmothers, and I do my best to bestow beauty upon the world. But I cannot eat my art, I cannot turn poems into five gallon cans of rubber sealant, I cannot transform my unread
books into honest and skilled workers who know how to repair RVs. Please help us, Grandmothers, for
we have done no harm and given many blessings to many people."
I felt a deep and gentle joy in singing these songs. There I was, before anyone else had woken, quietly shaking a rattle and singing to invisible spirits about such mundane but important things. I was asking for survival. I was asking to be freed from terrible fear.
Last week, as the world seemed to be disintegrating, there was a sudden whooshing sound inside my head. I could feel forces coming together like pieces of a puzzle. We have friends in this
campground with RV repair skills. A gift of funds came from The Sage. Suddenly, in a matter of days, the angel whose photo you see above was working on our roof. She needed work. We needed her skills. There was just enough money to buy all the five gallon drums of rubber sealant and weatherproofing, all the contour tape and flashing.
Woman Who Fixes Things had helped me before. She would have helped me without pay, but I paid her what I could afford. Now I needed Woman Who Fixes Things for a big big job. Woman Who Fixes Things is a very special person. When she does a job she draws upon a deep reservoir of integrity. She does the very best work of which she is capable. Always. She is an angel.
Tomorrow our roof will be repaired, finished, sealed against all elements for many years. Woman Who Fixes Things and her friend Woman With Beautiful Voice have worked in searing heat on a burning roof.
They didn't complain. They sang and laughed.
The Sage provided the fuel. The angels of work provided the skills. I provided the prayers. My wife
provided for all of us, our human friends, our animal friends, she gave us cool water to slake our thirst.
She gave medicine to Little Bear and Gabriel Kuruk and they recovered, as if to say, "Look, the sickness has gone, healing is here, on all levels at once."
I thank you Sage, I thank you Woman Who Fixes Things, I thank you Woman With Beautiful Voice, I thank you my wife, The Fox, who prays on slabs of rock with her beautiful drum. And I thank you o so deeply, Grandmothers.
I call this a Miracle.