Second Coat

February 04, 2023

Written by: Br. Brian Poulin

Saturday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Readers who actually know me are likely aware that I spend a lot of time on the road these days, zipping around from one place to another. Around the recent turn of the new year, I had an extended time actually staying put at home for a bit—just about three whole weeks! I took advantage of the occasion by painting my room, something that had been on my mind to accomplish for about a year and a half.

My limited experience with interior prep work, along with numerous worthwhile interruptions, ensured that the project took longer than I had expected, which in hindsight I actually should have expected. By the time I had to depart for my next trip, I was finished with everything but touch ups and clean up. The walls basically looked good though, with a few blemishes here and there that I intended to address later.

Those blemishes remain for the time being, and while I still aim to fix a couple of them—my touch up paint and brushes stay close at hand—others have been hidden by the furniture that has been moved back in place or they simply don’t seem that offensive anymore. My occasional experience painting over the years has helped me to continue moving beyond whatever perfectionist tendencies I may have, as I have learned to sometimes distinguish whether a job that looks good from 15 feet away is sufficient or whether it truly needs to withstand minute examination. And still, part of me finds virtue in attending to the hidden surfaces that only I, and perhaps a future painter, will ever know were “done right.”

It's amazing how many of our mistakes wither in significance given a moment’s reflection or the passage of time. A common refrain among teachers is that our students generally won’t remember too much of the content we try to impart upon them, but that they will always remember how we treated them, how we made them feel. So what tasks, decisions, and details are truly important to agonize over after all?

I still obsess over more details than I probably should. However, I try to maintain my equanimity by remembering which ones will truly matter to others and which only affect my own personal satisfaction. Often enough, even if the details need to be right eventually, there is room for mishaps or uneven results in the initial stages. There is much grace in the second coat of paint.

So I wonder sometimes how much of my life I will spend foolishly trying to conform reality to my plans when Plan ‘B’ so often stands for ‘better’, as many friends of Bro. Dan o’Riordan have learned one way or another.

St. Marcellin Champagnat truly saw the Marist Project as Mary’s work, and would say that after we do all we can, it is simply too bad for her if she lets her good work crumble. May that mix of determination and the ability to let go guide my own attitudes as I carry out the various endeavors entrusted to me.


The ‘ear candy’ on offer this time around is a song by the Christian rapper Lecrae about things eventually working out for the good. He’s speaking more about overcoming hardship than not getting things perfect the first time around, but many of his words apply to this month’s theme regardless. The ‘brain food’ includes both a portion of an interview with Martin Sheen as well as some observations regarding one of his recent films, both relating to the importance of renewal and second chances.

Ear Candy: “8:28” by Lecrae

Brain Food: “Why Martin Sheen Returned to Catholicism” by Ryan J. Pemberton

Come back on the first Saturday of next month for a new post!