I went away for my birthday last weekend and returned to find the walls of our house, previously bare, covered with photos and artifacts from our travels and pictures of that lovely girl has become the source of so much inspiration on this blog and to her parents. My husband and his parents had to work around the real plaster walls to adorn the place but it surely feels more like a home now that it did before I left.
A few months ago I wrote about how I’ve struggled with this big purchase, this acquisition if you will, but how the house has already brought us so much joy, and perhaps God means it that way. And you’ll have to humor me for writing yet another post about the house. But it continues to feel like an adventure, this getting to know the house, and its old ways.
For one thing, the house creaks and moans and groans and talks. It’s kind of like another character in our lives; it does its own thing. And it seems like people forgive that personality of old houses so much more easily than new. A crack or a cranny or an angle or a blemish is just how she or he was made, rather than something necessarily to be fixed. You work within the house’s constraints with more measure, because it has existed long before you and will continue to live on (hopefully) long after you’re gone.
A few people have asked me whether it’s haunted and I’ve replied heartily, gee, I hope so! Across the street a cemetery that initially spooked one of Lucia’s nurses (she’s from China and has a hearty respect for ghosts) has become a favorite walking place for all of us. It’s the view we linger upon from our windows, that and a little church that’s no longer in service. All these features can be kind of painful reminders of the lives lived within these walls and around this little town that cease to be. But they can also remind us of our smallness. Our small, small part in the grandness of God’s works throughout the ages.
You see, when we were looking at houses, we kind of fell in love and bought this house because of the way the sun set and the golden light glittered on the field out behind it. Sure, we cared about the inside of the house, its spacious kitchen, and its accessibility for Lucia, but it was not as much about just who the house was but what the house held out before us that made us buy it. Perhaps this is why old houses are so much more than the sum of their parts–they have storied pasts and thus, hold out before them artful futures, and we continue to feel blessed to live in the in-between space, where history is relished and dreams are conjured.
We’re learning to live with the clunks in the night, but it’s so funny, whereas in our previous apartment we used to go all frenetic when the smoke alarm went off and might wake Lucia, in this house, we let the sounds live. I think we imagine she enjoys and leans into the creaks and the clunks as much as we do. They’re a sort of comforting reminder that the house has its own truth to be spoken in a world that can be so careless with the histories, stories, and lives of things that mattered to someone and will matter in the future.
So on a rainy morning like this one, I listen to the rain fall on the rooftop, place my feet on the boards that have been here for hundreds of years, and relish the little creaks that let me know that my weight upon it means something to this sturdy, storied house. And I wonder how our lives lived will be added to its landscape, our little imprint figured into its much longer, illustrious, creaky history.