Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The House

     Mr. Pepper has been offered a new job that he is seriously considering. If he takes it we will be relocating. The past weeks have been spent poring over real estate listings and combing the internet for something that fits our family's needs. It's turning out to be more of a challenge than we had anticipated, but we finally found one that piqued our interest. An almost three hundred acre farm ... considered as bare land. There are buildings there, but they're so tumbledown that they would have to be torn down.
     Yesterday Mr. Pepper took off from work so we could go see it.
     There was a lot to love about the land, and the two mile long driveway, and the quiet. It was so quiet it almost felt loud, but I'm sure I could learn to love that quite easily. The amazing views were an added bonus.
     The buildings though were every bit as bad as the realtor had warned us they would be. Most of them looking as if it would take only one or two more gusts of wind to bring them down completely. The house was the best of the buildings, but it was crooked and leaning, several boards were missing on the upstairs wall and you could see inside. It must have been abandoned years ago, I thought, but then I noticed a thin wisp of smoke coming from the chimney and a woman stepped out on the porch and hollered for us to come in.
     The realtor led the way down the muddy hillside to the house. "Come on in," the woman said. "Uncle Earl would like to meet you. He lives here alone and doesn't get to see a lot of people."
     I hoped the house would be able to hold our combined weight as we walked up on the rotting, sagging porch. When she opened the door I could have cried at what I saw inside.
    The room was dark and tiny, a dry sink along one wall, a tiny table pushed up against another wall where 96 year old Uncle Earl was sitting smiling widely at us revealing his three remaining teeth. He was happy to see us and visited for a while. Beside him was an ancient wood stove, on the wall behind it was an ancient clock so covered in dust and grime you could barely see its face. He had some battered old pots and pans hanging on the wall (think Little House on the Prairie) The walls had been painted a weird green probably a good seventy years ago. The floor had 1920's or earlier linoleum that was basically worn through and the entire floor slanted toward the middle of the house. The niece led us to the next room. His bedroom. An old lumpy twin size bed was pushed up against the wall, across the room was his long deceased wife's twin size bed. The pictures on the walls, looked like they should be in a museum, the furniture again was ancient probably the furniture they brought into the house back in 1842 when the house had been built. It didn't look as if anything had been cleaned since the day his wife died twenty some years ago. She led us upstairs to see two little bedrooms, still made up like his wife had them, but now buried under years of accumulated dirt and dust. This side of the house held two bedrooms upstairs. The other side had another stair way leading to three more bedrooms, one of which had part of the outside wall missing. This must have been an absolutely gorgeous home back in its prime, but now it was the saddest thing I had ever seen.
   Uncle Earl too stubborn to move sits at his table all day with nothing to do. Clinging desperately to the past and what used to be. Refusing to embrace anything new. He doesn't have an indoor bathroom, no running water, no TV. Nothing at all really.

   As sad as I felt for "Uncle Earl" living like he is, I couldn't help but think of the spiritual picture it paints of someone who holds onto the past, and can't let go of grudges or wrongdoings. The image of a "heart house" so overburdened by unforgiveness is sobering.

   Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit in me. Psalms 51:10