Sunday Afternoon Rocking

It Takes a Heap of Living


Today my daughter and I pitched in to "be family". As surely as the barn raisings of the past, so it is when family begins a project, our traditional framework says it is time to "pitch in". A step-daughter and her husband have built a new home, and we are helping with wallpaper. They are excited, this young couple, and rightfully so. Their new home will be lovely. It sparkles and shines in its crisp newness. It seems poignant with expectation of good times and family affairs, celebrations and events a future together promises. And because this couple is young, and standing in the threshold of life, they stand "looking in" and "ahead", happy with expectations, but without the framework of one who has lived. And so I doubt they see what I see, what my husband sees when we look around us
at the sparkling interior.

Somehow our gaze ventures beyond that which is "there", that which is lovely indeed, and what we "see" simply can only be seen by eyes that have seen before. I think Edgar Guest said it best when he penned the lines, "It takes a heap o' living to make a house a home."

A house simply isn't a home until it is inhabited not just by people, but by memories. There have to be some walls echoing laughter, some floors paced with worries, a window one has stared out of in pain. There have to be some worn spots and some scratches and some scars. There have to be some things less than perfect to make a place "perfectly a home". If "it takes a heap of living to make a house a home", it is because it "takes a heap of living to make a life a life". Somehow a house, once it has become a home, is the badge of honor that proves a life has been lived and still stands proudly bearing the scars of having lived it. The very fact that the house still stands is proof of the firm foundations upon which it was built, and that in as symbolic a way as a physical one.

I peer at a door frame and see tiny pencil marks matching a yet unborn child's growth. I glance at a place a patio might be poured and imagine a child's hand prints in the concrete, preserved forever that an older child or adult will gaze one day and say, "Those were mine". I peek into at a proposed nursery and see tiny finger smudges on a wall, a crayon mark or two that a mother finds it difficult to paint over, both in reality and in emotion. I imagine a gang of noisy young folks merrily clamoring in a basement room. I see bright eyes dancing as they peer over a counter top at freshly made cookies, and I imagine squeals of delight out on the lawn as a child holds up a brightly colored Easter egg. I think that one day this young couple will be where my husband and I are now, and a young lady will bring a young man through that wide front door one day to meet her folks, and their lives will change forever, again.

Perhaps my step-daughter will one day hear tradition calling, "It is time to pitch in", and she too will be there for her young adult children, delighting in their youth, their expectations on the thresh hold of life. And I suspect, she will see in the newness of their life together the portent of all the things to come that she will by that time have known. She will smile at their delight in life, she will enjoy knowing the pleasures they will find as adults carving a place for a family, and she will sadly know in her life all the pain they will face as they begin theirs. She will come armed with a paint brush or a roll of wall paper, and the hands that she puts to work helping this youthful couple will be a bit roughened, but adept. The heart that she uses for eyes will be a bit weary, perhaps a bit toughened, and yet in some curious way, a bit more tender. She will glance at a door frame of a new home, and see tiny pencil marks matching a yet unborn child's growth.

"It takes a heap o' living to make a house a home." And isn't that a large part of what life is all about? We bear the scars and the scratches and the worn spots, and our "house becomes a home". We stand as proof that foundations made it possible to survive the storms of life and our house is even more beautiful than the day it was shining in its newness. How wonderful.


Just a thought,

Copyright ©2001JanPhilpot



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