Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Home Repairs

Today, Tim and I were working down at the new house. The new house is old. The support beams in the stone basement are hand hewn barn beams, scavenged from an even older barn that was being torn down as the house was being built back in the 1880's.
I like house rehab because it gives me a chance to daydream. My mind is free to traipse from one topic to another, because I don't have to think about what I'm doing. I can wonder about the beams, and who made them, and ponder how the world has changed since those beams were trees growing in the forest Today, ripping down cheap paneling, we found old newspapers. One was from 1954. In Titusville, a three year old boy witnessed his father stab his mother 5 times. I find myself wondering about that boy. He'd be six years older than I am. I wonder what happened to him, what sort of a life he had after that horrible day.
Does he have a wife?
I find myself praying for someone I've never met.
Also under that cheap paneling, we found lovely woodwork around the windows and the doors. We found wallpaper with its intricate antique patterns. It was in wonderful shape. It's neat to peel back the layers of a house to see what lies beneath. I feel the same excitement about getting to know people. I find myself feeling a little sad for the house. At some point, the house went from loved and cared for to being considered a liability.
People stopped caring.
Little repairs were not taken care of.
Gradually the house fell into disrepair.
I know people like that too.
The people in their lives stop caring.
They are seen as liabilities.
Gradually they stop taking care of themselves.
That's a sad thing.
But there are such a thing as second chances.
Our house is becoming something once again.
Every person in this world should have that same opportunity.
I think on that for a while.
I find myself praying that I give people the same chance that I give this house.
As I tore away debris, I wore a dust mask. When you get working hard, the mask gets annoying, and it is hard to breath though the filters. I thought of my dad, dead for going on 8 years now. He died of lung cancer. We were all at his bedside as he slowly suffocated. It was awful. I quit smoking on the spot. I'd quit before, sometimes for years, but this time it was permanent. I've never had the slightest craving for a cigarette since. Just the thought that I might see the same grief and horror on my childrens' faces that I saw on my brother and sisters' faces as we helplessly waited for my dad to die was more than I could bear. I think about my dad, and the muddled mess that my family is today. Feuds and bitterness and maternal favoritism has broken our little family up. I can't fix it. I can only wait to see what God does with it. It makes me sad, but then I start thinking about all the people that have moved into my life, in effect become my family, and I find myself thanking God for them.
There is something very soul satisfying about mindless hard work. My mind wanders from topic to topic freely. I pray, and I praise. I ponder heartache and life's griefs. I think about my own life. The life of people I've never met. My mind dances through the years of my life, and then to times before I was born as we make discoveries in our house and try to set a date to what we are seeing.
I work hard. And I think.
What a satisfying day!


A said...

Gorgeous post :)
Quiet contemplation can be such a beautiful space. Thanks for the reminder.

Hal Johnson said...

In an hour, I'll drive away from home, leaving my family for twenty days. This was a wonderful post to read before leaving part of my heart behind. Thanks.

debby said...

Quiet contemplation is what keeps my life in order and perspective, a. Hal, I'm sure that your family will be overjoyed at the end of the 20 days when the other half of their hearts is returned to them. Travel safely.

Mikey said...

Now see, THIS is what I totally want to see pictures of!!! I'd love to see what those beams are like and the old newspapers.
We redid a house we lived in when I was 8. It was built in the 1800s in WVA and Mom found old postcards in the walls. Really neat to see...
I love that stuff!!!