Hillary’s wedding is just two months away, and with an at-home reception, you can imagine the Honey-Do list Robbie wakes up to most weekends. Some of it, though, he thinks up all by himself.
Like pressure washing the dock.
Now, I don’t generally like things that look all perfect and new, so this is not a project I would have encouraged. But when Robbie tactfully observed that we’d passed “vintage chic” a few years back and were now headed into the “slip-n-slide” stage of outdoor decorating, I saw his point. Weddings have enough natural pitfalls without sending Grandma and her wine glass into the bay, mid-way through the party.
While I mulled that one over, Robbie suited up in his duck boots, his hat, and his SPF shirt and headed out to the garage. I’d always thought pressure washing was basically a grown up version of playing in the sprinkler, and I wondered why he needed all the gear. It was a warm and sunny day; why not do it barefoot?
“If this water cuts across your toes,” he explained, “it’ll saw ’em right off.”
If you’ve read Gary Chapman’s book about Love Languages, you’ll know what I mean when I say that Acts of Service is tops on my list, and when my man came back in the house after a couple of hours – absolutely filthy and only half-way finished – I thought he was awesome. He was also exhausted, and so when he went off to work on Monday morning I went out to the dock, thinking I’d surprise him and finish the job.
Yeah, so pressure washing is harder than it looks. Just starting the machine (which involves one of those ghastly pull cords designed to make men feel manly) was challenging enough, but if you’ve never pulled the trigger on one of those things, well. It took every ounce of my fourth-grade gymnastics training not to fall overboard from the kick.
Eventually, though, I got the hang of it, and I managed to do another mile or two of boards. There was no way I could finish before sunset, though, and my spirits sagged. Knowing that Acts of Service is not Robbie’s love language, but wanting to send the message anyway, I decided to try Words of Encouragement:
Now, if pressure washing a dock is hard, let me assure you that pressure washing a sentence is harder. I tried block letters first, but that involved stopping and starting the nozzle-gun, and the kick got me every time. So I resorted to cursive, which I hear is no longer being taught in schools. Which is a real tragedy, given how had it is to pressure wash “I love you” in print.
On the plus side, the nice thing about pressure washing is that, once you have a good grip (and you stop getting tangled up in the hose), you have a lot of time to think. And as I watched the boards go from slimy to clean, I thought about Jesus. I thought about how he pretty much pressure washed our whole lives through his work on the cross. I thought about how his arms must have hurt, even more than mine did, as he hung there. And I thought how cool it was that he could do the job once and for all and say, “It is finished,” without having to suit up again the next weekend.
Most of all I thought about how, in that once and forever act of service, he wrote “I love you” on our hearts.