looking back, it seems i always fall hard.
once it was the glimpse of the gingerbread moulding, peeking out from over the sidewalk. another time, the hardwood floors that stretched down the long narrow hallway. years later, it was an upstairs window, and the glow from inside on a moonlit night, and the outline of a woman bent over, painting the sill, a woman who called out to me and practically sealed the deal before i’d walked up the stoop. after that came the victorian, with the sunlight pouring in from wall-to-wall windows and skylights, with flying staircases, and leafy full branches that brushed by the glass, making it feel like you lived in the trees.
those are the places i’ve loved, the apartments and houses, the homes. places that held me for particular passages of the story that is my sweet life.
this old house, it called to me from the front walk, the way the bluestone meandered up to the stoop, did not take the straight route, the direct route. then, there’s the pause, the two steps up, the tucked-in cove where the sunbeams pour down, where sparrows, for years now, have made their fine home. seems i loved this old place before i even got to the door.
we’ve been here nearly nine years, and it’s come to be one of my dearest soulmates, an ally, a friend. a house needn’t speak words to speak to your heart. sometimes, it whispers. it beckons with light. it pulses with ticking and tocks, and creaks in the floorboards.
i’ve come to know and love all of its quirks. the way the back middle burner stubbornly takes its sweet time, when i try to crank up the flame. the way the upstairs hall light flickers and dims, as if there’s a hand at the switch that no one can see.
this is the place, no matter the hour, that nourishes, that sustains, that refuels me.
it is my quiet place, a cove for prayer and meditations. it is the launchpad for dreams, whether those dreams are spun staring out the window, finding myself charmed by a finch or a cardinal. or, tiptoeing down in the dark, somehow stumbling into the courage it takes to bravely and boldly hatch some new plan.
this old house holds the chairs and the nooks that call to me, come curl up here. too often, i ignore all those pleas. i run and i scurry most of the time.
but i like that the offering is there; i promise those places that some day the hour will come when i will find time for pausing, for sitting and thinking. instead of dashing and thinking.
but even mid-stride, as i bound up the stairs, my old house catches my attention, soothes on the run. i notice the way the morning light makes rainbows on the wall. i watch the leaf shadows dance on the pillow, there on the comfy old armchair.
i know it’s just walls and wood, slapped with layers of paint, but a house has a soul, i’m convinced. a house is a friend, an old friend, a knowing friend. one that welcomes your cold bare feet slapping against its planks. one that drenches you in sunlight, even on a bitter cold day. one whose windows let in the wind. let in the cool night’s breeze.
what other friend offers a bath, a good long soak in the tub, complete with bubbles?
what other friend begs you to fill up its rooms, with your friends and your dreams and your candlelit dinners?
where else can you plop on the bed for a good solid cry, and the walls won’t ever let on? won’t share your secret, your sorrow?
and that same old house, the very next morning, it’s the very place where the dawn’s pink glow pours back in, gives you the air, and the spark, that you need to try all over again.
this old house, among the great good souls who populate my most blessed life, it is among the most deeply essential.
tell me how your dwelling place has seeped into your soul…..
and before we go, time to whisper deep blessings for our very own beloved slj who birthed her sweet baby girl, night before last. she has been a brilliant light here at this table through the years, and longed to taste and to relish the calling of motherhood. she is now among us, the blessed who mother…….a lifetime of blessings, sweet friend.