Friday, October 8, 2010

What's Outside My Window

“Sleep as late as you want tomorrow,” Dad said as he went off to bed last night.

I had arrived a few hours earlier; I told Husband I wanted to wake up on the farm.

The house was built in the mid-1860s, right after the Civil War, and my parents moved here before I turned two. Its walls are of native limestone, 14 inches thick, and when workmen replaced the roof a few weeks ago they left in place the square nails the original builders had used to attach sheeting to rafters.

I’m sure the war-shocked builders chose this location, just a few hundred feet from a creek bank, because of the easy access to water, and to the oak trees that even then were sending up saplings a few yards from the building site. I wonder, though, if they sensed the power of the place.

I didn’t always appreciate living on a farm. My friends in town had a special bond built through years of playing kick the can under streetlights, and riding bicycles to the swimming pool. My siblings and I, on the other hand, bonded by getting up at 5:30, while stars were still bright in a black winter night, and shivering as we trudged the quarter mile to where we would help Dad with chores before breakfast. 

The location ten miles out of town seemed especially cruel in the early high school years, before I was old enough to drive. I was quite certain that life in town was an endless cycle of hanging out at the Banner Burger Bar then taking a spin down Main Street and back up Mill Street to the Banner again, repeat, repeat, repeat.

It wasn’t until I was out of high school that I realized how this farm has wrapped its roots around my heart: The first weekend back from college when I walked into the kitchen, cool and smelling of apples, and nearly wept at the relief of being in its familiar embrace. Or the four months I spent back here after I had left my newspaper job and was waiting to leave for the Peace Corps, when I would sit on the porch swing and wonder where I would be after I left this place.

Over the years we have gathered at the farm in joy, gravitating to the homeplace’s solid permanence in our changeable lives. Last winter we mingled our tears here after Mom’s unexpected death.

Husband doesn’t have a homeplace. His dad was a minister, and in obedience to the call of God and the instructions of the bishop, Husband’s family moved four times while he was growing up. He is patient with my yearnings to be back “home,” and seeing this place through his eyes, I concede the isolation and the inconvenience. 

But this morning I woke up and the only sound came from a bird in the massive oak outside the south bedroom window.  It seemed to be singing a line from the most familiar Psalm, “He restoreth my soul.”

I acknowledge that only God restores my soul, but sometimes He brings me to this place when that’s necessary. Its  restorative powers are mighty, indeed.

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