crawl spaces, herons, and new growth

New painting is much more glamorous
than work in the crawl space
I've spent the better part of the last three days under our new (well, new to us) house.  You'd be amazed at what will collect in the crawl space over nearly one hundred years.  It may be a testament to OCD or just neurosis in general that I cannot help but clean out even the crawl space.  In my defense, the less stuff for rats to make a home in the better.  I've had a pretty miserable attitude the last few days to be honest. 

Clarence Bell 
I had lunch with my family today at Five Sisters, where my good friend Clarence Bell plays for brunch.  He observed that I am fortunate to have a home. Something clicked and I realized I'd been looking at things wrong.  I found myself grateful as I crawled around in the dirt later in the day.  It is like so many things in life, perspective and outlook completely color whether our days will be filled with gratitude or misery.  Three thoughts on this Sunday evening, as has become customary:

1. I read a spectacular journal entry from Thomas Merton this past week on the Ox Mountain parable. The need for the quiet of the night and the healing of morning.  That we cut down the trees and the oxen trample new sprouts before the new growth can really take hold.  And he makes the observation that it is the same with men and women.  We allow little time for stillness and healing.  We are too busy to allow the new growth within us to thrive.  It gets stomped out these days in many cases with unending progress.


2. I am troubled by the events in Ferguson, and its dramatic proxy for explosive tension just below the surface.  I've come to see race relations ever so differently since having read Twelve Years a Slave.  How many generations does it take for slave wounds to heal?  I am mindful of this especially as I am making my way through Exodus.  


3. A magnificent heron flew over my old truck as I drove out along the beach today, with the sun setting off in the distance and the mystical fog of sand and surf everywhere.  It was a breathtaking moment.  And I thought of Merton's observation of the heron flying off in the distance, trailing an old bi-plane.  Was the plane running or the bird chasing?


I'll leave you with a poem on the house.  It has consumed me.  The literal house, not the poem.


house


a brave old soul
you were already sixty
when I was born
wise and tested
and true


rusty pipes and old wire
pulled and run
hammers and a few tools
I've never even seen before


the workers seem amused
by me
and my attempts
to be a man who works with his hands


your scars all covered with fresh paint
we wipe away years of grime
finding secrets along the way
sharp objects tucked away in dark corners
steal my breath


the scene of future
coffee and embrace
lazy Saturday breakfasts


until then I'll leave my blood
and sweat in your walls and
attic and crawl spaces


old girl
what will you give in return? 

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