Surface prep

I remember sitting in my composites class the semester before my last at WSU. It was a small class about 12 of us all told. John’s was lecturing on theories of adhesion – why things stick together. John’s is a character, old, bald and tubby – kinda mean, kinda smug, funny. I liked him, others hated him, and there were days that I hated him to. But he was a good story teller, and that goes a long way. He was talking about mechanical theories of adhesion, how when gluing surfaces together people would leave the surfaces on the rougher side so the glue could flow, so it could get into nooks and crannies and burrow deeper into that which it was going to bond. And then it was discovered that if you could get things smooth – really smooth, and clean, your bond strength would be even better than that of a rough surface. And that reminded me of a day in the lab when we were testing surface finishes on little blocks. Blocks which had been sanded, and polished and lapped to a mirror finish. Stupid smooth. So smooth that if you put one block on top of another, and left it – it would be stuck together. And when you pulled them apart they would pull parts of their neighbor out – leaving a pitted surface behind. So smooth that enough atoms began sharing enough electrons causing the metals to became fused in areas.

I was hiking and I could see the corners of my Chucks peeling away from the canvas – I need to glue them. The hold will be that much better and stronger if I clean them well, remove all the dirt and grime, and old glue. Clean the rubber down to rubber, clean the canvas down to canvas. Only then can I get a good bond, and the bond’s strength depends on much more too. How long did the glue set? Was it held tight?

And as I sat over looking a blue river, I realized that life is often that way. If you want a good bond – you have to do surface prep. You’ve got to get down to base materials and make connections there. I now lots of people that I’m glued to thru shallow things. Bond’s that don’t last – that fail. I know several people that I’m glued to at deeper levels.

And I realized when a bond fails, when the glue no longer holds, all that too must be cleaned out if you are ever going to glue anything back.

So here I was feeling all very smart and wise upon my hill – that’s what these last few months have been Neil – surface prep. God’s working on you – cleaning out old glue, surface prep. It’s got to be done, even if you want to glue an old joint back together. You have to clean it out and start afresh. The cleaner, the smoother the better.

Mirror smooth.

Mirror smooth.

And then on my way down, my thinking flipped, my focus changed. I’m not sure where I first heard it, but somewhere the phrase – “a mirror reflecting the Glory of God” – there is something like it in 2nd Corinthians, a mirror reflecting the glory of God. I felt like the Karate Kid when he starts to understand why he’s been waxing. All this surface prep was not to prepare a joint for gluing but a surface for reflecting. Not that it is a great and shiny mirror. But the light that shines upon it is powerful and strong.

I have a friend who has often given out this rather good advice – “don’t focus on not being (fill in the blank) focus rather on being like Christ”

And that changes a lot of stuff, a lot of internal motives. Am I prepping a joint to be glued or polishing a mirror to reflect? Because one is primary, one is deeper, one is stronger, one is more important. The success of one depends on the other.

What is my main thrust? My primary goal? If I can only focus on one thing what will it be?

What is my joy? Where is my strength?

Mirror smooth . . .

PS - a much more coherent explanation can be found in the first few pages of Chapter 9 in Pipers book "This Momentary Marriage" read it, I found it encouraging. Let me know what you think.



So full, they were sprawled on the floor

I don't know the word for it. So instead I'll try to describe as best I can what I felt.

I have an camera that I can adjust by touch. I have a password I can type without looking. I have a pair of chucks that are worn in. A pair of jeans that fit. A backpack that I've adjusted just so. A camera bag that hangs just right. A trackball that is tuned to my thumb.

I have things that fit. They feel right. And I can tell when something is wrong by their feel. I can't tell you how I know the steak is done - it just is done.

Tonight 8 people came thru my door. 4 were planned, 2 were called, 2 dropped by. I cooked, we ate, we talked, we laughed. We connected. Food. Ice Cream. Baileys. And I must say, as I stood in the corner and watched people talking I felt that - what ever that is. The way you feel when you find your pace when you ride. A cadence as you climb a hill. A good handshake, gloves that fit well. When you get a backroads wave timed just right. Seated. Fit. Right.

A sort of feeling that makes you pause, smile and think - but not pause long, no this feeling does not call you to linger, rather it nudges you with a smile, on - to keep in this way. Failure tells you that you must not quit - this, I don't know what to call this. It's not success, success says "You did it!!! You can stop now, you have finished, well done."

And whatever this is, all you know is that you find yourself refreshed and looking forward to the next time.

Don't over think the simple pleasures of life.

Enjoy them.


Unexpected solace.


Would you walk with me for a ways?

I've enjoyed these solitary hikes so.

Empty woods, vacant fields, exposed hillsides.

Full of solace.

Unexpected solace.

~ ~ ~


Two weeks worth of Saturday's

I've got to run to small group - I'll let your imaginations fill in the rest of the story for now. When I get some free time I'll right about beauty and solace. And the music of new-found places. But till then dear reader - till then you must content yourself with these photos and your own musings.