In silence, the sound of a brush drawn firmly and evenly over a wood surface is clearly discernible. To the solitary painter, it could be the sound of an idea. Ideas have power - visually, audibly - in thought and in actual experience. Ideas breed wisdom. But what about the capacity of an idea to induce strength - yes, physical strength?
One can speak of the strength that is born in a long-suffering heart, but this is rather different from the strength born of an idea, out of the wisdom it portrays.
I risk being frowned at when I say that I have come to value the latter more highly. The quality of caring is uppermost in my thought, and I'm reminded of Mother Theresa's penetrating words: "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." For me, that's strength born out of wisdom, the strength of the most authentic kind of service.
It's what has been happening in my home. For the past 10 days, my wife has been away visiting her mother. In her absence, my daughter, Kristen, has decided to have the wood trim in our kitchen and living room painted as a gift to my wife. Kristen has elicited the help of her boyfriend, Frank.
With his eschewal of shortcuts and gadgetry, this young man has been confining his skill to the use of a single 2-1/2-inch brush. A simple tool, requiring of him painstaking attention to detail and demanding special energy. He applies the white paint with precision; no use made of masking tape.
He has worked silently for hours, with only the long whispers breathing from his brush in the empty room. Not a single mistake. From time to time, drawn away from my computer, I spy on Frank's unrelenting steadiness with awe, realizing that I'm witnessing a commitment of concentration and sustained strength that is not usually come by.
I ask myself, What is inducing this commitment and strength? Does it originate in the wisdom flowing from service? Or from shared enthusiasm? Or from sheer love of a challenge, with terms he has set himself?
Or does his regard for my daughter mean so much to him? Whatever.... At the moment, the sound of this man's life comes to me as an idea strongly at work with every stroke of the brush.