Fire and rain

Ray’s Motel, before we started working on it.

Bob Waldmire — the inspiration for Fillmore in the movie Cars — helps paint the trim.

Ray’s Motel, after we finished.

“I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain…”
— James Taylor

I saw fire and rain healed this past weekend during the Route 66 festival in Clinton, where I led a group of volunteers who were repainting the old office at the former Ray’s Motel as part of a preservation project sponsored by the Oklahoma Route 66 Association.

When Ron and I got up Friday morning for breakfast, we were dismayed to see dark clouds gathering overhead. By the time we finished eating, a thunderstorm had moved into the area, bringing heavy rains along with it.

You can’t paint in the rain, and some of our volunteers had traveled hundreds (or, in a few cases, even thousands) of miles and were looking forward to this all-too-rare opportunity to get involved with a hands-on Route 66 preservation project. I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I did the only thing that made sense under the circumstances: I grabbed the phone and called a practitioner.

I couldn’t get hold of anybody right away, but I still had a couple of hours before our project was scheduled to start, so I curled up with a copy of the week’s Lesson and got to work, looking for an idea I could use to dispel my fear of being rained out.

Two lines jumped out at me:

“For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me…”
Job 23:14


“Every man’s work shall be made manifest…”
I Cor. 3:13

I reasoned that if our preservation project was right action (which it certainly seemed to be), and if we were undertaking it with right motives (which we obviously were), then our work would, indeed, “be made manifest.”

Looking at a weather forecast on his laptop, Ron was less convinced.

“This storm isn’t moving,” he reported as he watched the radar. “It’s not going anywhere.”

When Ron got offline, I got on my friend Kate’s blog, where I remembered reading a great testimony about two healings, a century apart, that involved dispelling storms. As I continued to hang onto the thought that no material condition could hinder right action undertaken with right motives, I became increasingly confident that I didn’t need to fear this storm.

Rain was still falling lightly when we left the motel, but the sunshine was penetrating the black clouds, and it occurred to me that we could always start scraping in the rain if we had to.

Daily bread,” I muttered to myself. “‘Take therefore no thought for the morrow.’ It’s OK if it rains now. I don’t really need it to stop right this minute.”

It was still raining lightly by the time we reached the work site, so I got out my cell phone again and called my friend Lucy — a wonderful practitioner from Illinois — to adjust the situation.

‘All things work together for good,’” she reminded me. “I’ll get to work.”

By the time my friend Marilyn arrived a few minutes later with paperwork for our volunteers to fill out, the rain had dwindled to sprinkles, and it stopped completely just as our friend Carol got there with scrapers and sunscreen for everybody.

That was the rain.

The fire came later in the day — and for the rest of the weekend — when the sun came out and my skin started to turn pink. Although sunburns have caused me immense pain and even dehydration in the past, this one never really bothered me. My skin turned red, my nose peeled, and I even discovered small blisters on one arm Monday morning, but it didn’t hurt, and I never felt any ill effects from the heat — no headache, no symptoms of dehydration, no discomfort at all.

It was a great weekend all the way around. A few pictures:

Volunteers help paint the former Ray’s Motel on Route 66 in Clinton.

Who says federal bureaucrats won’t get their hands dirty? Mike Taylor of the National Park Service helps scrape paint off the building.

Ron scrapes paint from the building.

A crew from the Oklahoma Route 66 Association puts up masking tape before painting the trim.

David Williams of helps paint the building.

Rod Harsh of fills in holes and cracks in the stucco.

Michael Wallis, the Sheriff of Radiator Springs from the movie Cars, helps paint the trim.

Route 66 photographer and author Shellee Graham, left, and Jason Bernhardt, right, assistant publisher of the Route 66 Pulse, help paint alongside one of the Willman girls from Colorado.

Mike Pendleton of Kansas moves the ladder into a better position. Blunck’s Photography in Clinton loaned us the ladder.

Carol Duncan, Washita County rep for the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, paints some of the trim around a front window.

Our finished handiwork.

If you happen to live in OKC, you might turn on the Fox 25 morning news on Thursday morning, as Brent Weber is going to do a piece about our project sometime between 7 and 8 a.m. CDT.


8 thoughts on “Fire and rain”

  1. What a fantastic co-operation. Please send the team over here to help me re-model the side garden. With that amount of help it would be done in a day!
    Peter Woodman, Bishopstone, England

  2. It’s great to see the spirit of what made Route 66 the road she is, come alive in those that helped with the repainting of Ray’s Motel. It’s a shame that so many of our icons are fast slipping away, but for the disinterest in Ray’s Motel, this would have gone the way of so many. My hat is off to those in the pictures and those that were behind the scenes. People like these are what keeps the road alive for future generations to enjoy. Many thanks.

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