The Work of this Generation

"As sweet as the peals of the best cast bells"

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We have all endured the uncertainty of the supply chain difficulties resulting from the Covid pandemic with certain commitments overtaken by uncontrollable events.  What I have learned, though, from a lifetime of people responding, “No, definitely not possible” is that everything, even “No, not possible” is still often possible.  Sometimes the right inflection and insertion of frustration, suggested innovation, a bit of appropriate expressed irritation combined with compassion and sympathy, or maybe even prayers may turn the tide.  

And so, the oak flooring arrived this past Monday morning, September 19!  And I must admit that the second scripture reading, from the past Sunday service of Psalm 113 was right on point, “Hallelujah! Give praise, you servants of the Lord! …..the wood is here!”  Okay, maybe the last few words were recently added.  

Thus, the lingering question, “When will the oak flooring arrive, so that we can continue the restoration of the historic church?” was answered as shown in the below picture.  The wood is indeed here.

 And the sounds of hydraulic driven nails going into our oak flooring is as sweet as the peals from the best cast bells.  

 The floor installation crew of Douglas Arriaza and Jay Pineault along with their leader Denis Leonti was already set-up Monday morning, ready to begin the new flooring,  as soon as the wood arrived, as shown on the next picture! 

It was clear on the previous Friday, after a very interesting process and a story for another time, that it might happen. But like a famous Biblical character, sometimes seeing is believing.  Well, we probably broke protocol, but when the truck loaded with our wood arrived in front of our historic church on Monday morning, we rang the church bell in celebration! 

Of note, as part of this project, we added a canvas sleeve to the bell rope to prevent it from chaffing and fraying as it is pulled next to the church stone. So, we might argue in defense of a protocol violation, that it was just a test of the new canvas sleeve.

One advantage of the delay for Doug and Jay is that the outside temperature has gone down and the working conditions inside the church are now so much better, allowing their strenuous work to proceed faster.  Another advantage is the humidity of the underlying, existing plywood is also now the same as the newly delivered oak wood which is a prerequisite for a good floor installation.  In just a couple of days' work, they have accomplished a great deal as seen in the next pictures. 

One advantage of the quarter cut white oak that we acquired, in addition to the beautiful grain and the tightness of the wood, is that it also comes in longer boards in the mix batch.  This allows our longer church floor length installation ( we are installing the boards vertically from the back of the church to the front of the church) to go much faster. The wood installers know we were slipping on our schedule, and they are determined to make-up any lost time.  We will obviously need to sand the floor when installation is finished, stain the wood with a complementary matching pew stain, and then apply two coats of polyurethane.  This completion will take several weeks, but we project we are back on schedule and on budget, with a completion date still sometime in October as originally forecast. Thank you very much, Denis Leonti and your flooring crew.

During the past week, we, like millions of people around the world, watched the solemn, respectful and beautifully executed funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey and then in St. George’s Chapel.  It was a special passing for a Queen who had dedicated her long life in a special way to her country and its people.  And as we watched the magnificent pageantry of the funeral service, in the beautiful Westminster Abbey, it seemed to answer the question, the essence of why we spend our time and our money on building and restoring a special place of worship.  Whether it is the grand and glorious facility of Westminster Abbey begun during the reign of King Henry III, in 1245, built on a site that had been used as an Abbey in the 11th century or our own St. Mary’s Church begun in 1847 by a woman, Sarah Gibbs, who had a vision for religious life in southern Portsmouth and built on the Vinson farm owned by the Potter family, the answer is the same.  

And the answer seemed clear during this service, that houses of worship provide over the centuries not only unique places of worship where people create individual spiritual relationships between themselves and their God, but as well, they are important places for faith and family to celebrate the special events of life:  baptisms, weddings and final funeral farewells.  These houses of worship are the edifices of legacy creation that are important to the soul of an individual and the community.

 So, onward to the restoration completion of our historic church, thanks to the generosity of so many within the congregation and forward to the continued worship in this historic St. Mary’s Church, which has been so important to so many individuals throughout its history.  Anon 

Posted by Ron Machtley with