Planting a seed is like planting an intention, and you wonder what will sprout from it. Conversely, planting an intention is a seeding, and what grows from that seed is often a wonderful unfolding.
Because an intention has a thought behind it....in meditation it is called a seed thought. A seed thought precipitates insight, just like seeding clouds precipitates rain.
So the seed we planted was the renovation of the neglected and blighted entryway in our church office building. The Sellers building is an old house converted into an office space decades ago, and improvements to this poor old house have been pretty slapdash. The walls have been painted an anemic yellow to prevent plaster cracking but other than that, it gives offa tired feeling just to stand in those rooms.
When I became sexton (caretaker) of Calvary Church over the summer, I felt inspired to tackle this sad entryway which had actually very good architectural bones. It featured a parquet floor, a curved wooden staircase banked by a lovely curved plaster wall, which must have been a feat to create in itself, and atop the curved wall, two niche shelves which were bare. The balustrades had been stripped to bare wood, as had the paint on the steps, and the plaster walls had large crumbling patches. The parquet floor was covered by a patchwork of industrial entry mats, and the wainscoting under the staircase was obscured by big boxes for donations which cluttered the whole area. An old radiator on your right as you passed into the offices was rusted and hideous to the eye.
It has taken months, as I first spread spackle on the failing plaster back in July and it is now dead winter, but with Stuart, my husband and co-sexton now, helping we took on the preparations and have just put the finishing touches on this space, with a warm mango yellow accent wall curling around the newly painted stairs and banister, which have decorative treads, painted trim work, and topped off with a St. Francis statue in one niche and a vase of silk flowers in the other niche.
This little foyer looks loved for the first time in decades, and while I was joking that it is “lipstick on a pig”—as this building is oft maligned by visiting parishioners and staff—in fact, it looks almost elegant and has inspired some discussion about what might be tackled next: renovate the rector’s office? Rearrange the upstairs offices to a more efficient and useful configuration? Paint them with flair and let the staff choose their own color schemes? Upgrade the old toilets? Jettison all the unused junk and supplies which have accumulated in the corners over many years? So much energy is now being unleashed!
We are preparing the ground for new leadership as we look for a new rector, and this new seeding has fallen on the fertile upturned soil of a parish which is going through upheaval and much change. The turning over of the established order of things has been difficult and often painful. But I am witnessing the faith of the parish pushing on through like a determined germinating seed sending out a powerful thrust of growth from its shell. Look at what is emerging above the ground around the church grounds—look at the tiny snowdrops blooming by the door yard of the old stone foundation. Parish spring is almost here!
The seed of intention planted by renovating the foyer space is beginning to sprout now and grow some roots and branches, as ideas come forth for this old house we inhabit day-in-and- day-out, and in time I have no doubt there will be beautiful fruit coming forth—in what forms? I can only begin to imagine!
~ Alice Despard