December 9, 2018

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Wait patiently.

Be at peace.

Those seem to be the two main messages Peter has for us in this passage.

Wait patiently.

Be at peace.

Whether we are awaiting Christ’s birth or his second coming, Peter encourages us to wait patiently and peacefully.

For me, this isn’t an issue. I’m pretty good at waiting. In fact, every time I stand at the intersection between my house and EIO and the Hive, my job is to help other people be patient.

The pedestrian light at that intersection takes an eternity to turn green. I know this because I often walk to the restaurant for brunch on the weekend and I’ve stood at that intersection with many people. And the person I’m with inevitably complains about how long it takes for the light to change.

Fortunately I’m pretty good at waiting. So I know the key is to distract yourself. A watched pot never boils. A watched pedestrian light never turns green. You have to distract yourself.

My favorite distraction is the pitiful, abandoned tire repair shop across from the restaurant. It is the antithesis of EIO and the Hive in so many ways. While the restaurant is new and hip and has an angel mural painted on the outside wall that attracts tourist Instagrammers, the building that was once West Nashville Tire Repair is empty and tired. The door is water-warped and crooked. Broken shards of glass growl through the window frames like jagged teeth. The building looks like it’s been exhaling a tired and angry sigh for the last thirty years.

The crimson red paint on the dead tire store is scabbing off, revealing rotted grey wood underneath. The parking lot is cordoned off with plastic tape. A haphazard maze of cracks and dry weeds criss-crosses the surface.

The worst part is the chair that’s propped next to the door. It’s wooden and has thick padding on the seat and the back. Just enough to make you wonder what communicable diseases might be lurking in its foam. It used to be in the library, at the computer desk that provided the public with access to the world wide web.

Then the library got a furniture upgrade and the chair was downgraded to the parking lot, then to a phone booth, then to the bus stop.

At last, its tragic death march down the block ended when it collapsed next to the door in front of the tire store.

And there it has been, ever since.

You can’t just distract yourself just by loathing the decrepit tire store. The key to making time pass more quickly is imagining how the building is going to look five or ten years from now.

That’s when time starts to fly.

“I’m not sure if I want the next owner to tear the building down, or just renovate it,” I told my friend Alex last Saturday. “Either way, there’s just nowhere to go but up with this building.”

Before it was a tire store it was the Oakley Lumber Yard, a successful timber business that supplied the wood for all the houses in Sylvan Park. My mind leans toward renovating the building as I imagine timbers from decades gone by rising up from the ground and squaring off at right angles to form new walls and a roof for the tire store.

“I want them to rip up the asphalt and repave the parking lot,” I continued.

“And that chair… Oh my god, that chair. There’s no reason that chair couldn’t be thrown away right now. I mean, I don’t think anyone has sat in it for years. I’ve definitely never seen anyone in it and I drive by here at least twice every day. Honestly it looks like I could give it a couple of good kicks and it would fall apart. We could throw it in the dumpster!”

Then a true inspiration hits me. “Alex. We could set it on fire! That wood is so dry, you probably wouldn’t even need lighter fluid. I bet that padding would flame up right away and the whole thing would be an inferno in a matter of seconds! We could pull it away from the building. You don’t think those weeds would catch fire, do you? It’s safe. Right?”

Alex looked at me. She leaned back so slightly that it was barely noticeable. “I think,” she said as she pointed away, far away from us, “I think you could just drag the chair around to the back of the building if you really couldn’t stand to look at it anymore. That way it’s not visible anymore AND you haven’t broken any laws!”

She was right on both counts, and yet dragging the chair around to the back of the building didn’t seem nearly as satisfying. In light of my arsonist fantasies, even kicking the chair to pieces felt unfulfilling.

I needed to set that thing on fire.

“Oh look, the light’s green!” Alex exclaimed. She tugged at my arm to get me to cross the street towards brunch.

I looked longingly over my shoulder at the brittle padded library chair.

I could practically smell the smoke from the fire I had almost set.

I am pretty good at waiting.

However Peter’s words aren’t wasted on me.

The peaceful part clearly eludes me.

- Melanie Gao