It is time I came clean. It seems that no matter how hard I try to beat this on my own I just cannot. I. Love. Rehab. Adore it. Addicted to it. In each dilapidated space I see potential. I imagine that each ramshackle residence I pass could be beautiful with just a few gallons of paint and a new screened door. Or a new roof and a bulldozer for a precious few but I see original glory in those little places with overgrown grass and lazy gutters.
We have owned seven homes and our sixth was the newest we had ever purchased. The floors were pristine, the backsplash up to date, the deck wasn’t a demo. It was truly awful. It was perfect and did not need me. At all. In fact, I could only serve to mess it UP. It was a beautiful reno hiatus but I did not feel like it would be our forever home. It was an awesome address with incredible neighbors but then again we couldn’t park the bass boat out in the driveway like the true classless people we are.
I called Andy our realtor eighteen months ago because he knows my flair for the nomadic. I told him that we wanted something a little older with a few projects to keep me busy. I then threw the full force of my intermittent Adderall-Infused attention to realtor.com. I found a perfect looking house with serious internal issues so we walked away. Then I saw The Patton House. The first time I did a drive-by was Halloween night and the scene of costumed children and neighborhood parties was something so HGTV, it confirmed that we needed to try for this one.
The grey brick house had a large window which was circular at the top and I was in love. As I perused our honeymoon pictures months later, I realized why. My favorite photos from that week is in front of the main entrance to The Cloister on Sea Island which had an identical window, just grander. I assume that is why it spoke to me. We got in to see the home the next day and to my great joy there was a dilapidated Butler’s quarters in the back yard. HOT DOG! A project! We made an offer and were moved in before Christmas. You know, the slowest time of the year.
We have moved a wall or two, gutted the kitchen and painted everything inside but patiently waiting in the backyard was the Butler, a perpetual burr under my saddle. So I began to tackle Rhett this week. My renovation is mainly cosmetic: ship-lapping walls, patching floors and opening him up a little. I’d love a light & airy she-shed. I guess that would make her a Rhetta. Yesterday as I was removing the solid wood front door, I had unscrewed seven of the eight screws on the door jam and the eighth wasn’t budging so I took a hammer to it. The solid door fell hard and brought with it part of the door frame. It was stuck.
I tried to lift the girthy door to no avail. At least it was angled so that I could slide down out the front. After the initial thud and numerous attempts to move the front door I noticed a petite, beautiful butterfly floating around the scene. I then began to laugh. Butterflies find me wherever I go. I think of the thin veil between heaven and earth and since Maggie Lee’s passing I think of her whenever a butterfly comes around. Their whimsy comforts me and I feel visited by these little beauties in an intentional way.
“Ok, little doodle. I guess you are here to help me lift this door? I am SURE that we can do this together. Maybe you could fly under here and give it a good push?” I just grinned and tried to hoist the wooden beast again and could not. I slid down the plank and approached the door from the left side. To my shock, with a modicum of effort, I raised the door. Then I really started to laugh. “Thank you for the help little butterfly. Who knew you were so strong?”
The orange and black visitor never came particularly close. I cleared the front doorway and instantly the butterfly was gone. Do I think my daughter was reincarnated as a butterfly to help me lift a heavy door? Do I think the butterfly’s presence brought with it insane strength? No and no. Other than owning four dogs I am not crazy. But I am aware of the whisperings of God in my still, small moments and invite those moments with open spirit.
I love to see the dilapidated be reclaimed. Especially when that structure is me.
Blessed are the found but even greater those lost inside God’s love; bereft of a Plan B, agenda-free and obsessed with God for God’s self alone.
Blessed are those with phenomenal rhythm but even more blessed are those who tune their lives to the eternal goodness of God and hum that other-worldly tune to such holy acts as taking out the trash.
Blessed are the full but how deeply blessed are those who willingly pull the plug on their pride reservoir and kneel before The Maker completely aware of their soul’s insufficiency.
Blessed are the followed but far greater those who stalk Jesus like paparazzi, knowing that a glimpse of the Savior is worth more than a thousand follows.
Blessed are the beautiful but still more so those who have traded the ashes of broken dreams, failures and humiliations for the beauty God stands patiently ready to exchange.
Blessed are the rigid for their desk tops are organized but more blessed are those rigidly devoted to Christ who are more concerned with the logs in their own eyes than splinters in the eyes of another.
Blessed are the debate victors but far happier those who value their opponent as God’s own child rather than a foe to be eliminated. One open ear is more valuable than a hundred judgemental eyes.
Blessed are the recognized but still more vital are those with the uncanny knack to recognize potential in someone who has written off their own future. A week of encouragement beats a life of imprisonment.
Blessed are those deemed important but more blessed are those who see the importance of God’s redemption in this life. Just as one renovated home can bring change to an entire street so one redeemed parent can change the trajectory of generations.
Blessed are the powerful but, hear me, far greater the blessing of those who use power to help and heal the broken for that is to their eternal credit.
-Jinny Henson January 2017
In reading Shane Claiborn’s Common Prayer; A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (a daily prayer and Bible Study guide), something struck me. Losing a child has altered the way I see everything, even punctuation.
Common Prayer has daily readings and liturgy, great stories from the annuls of Christendom and song suggestions for each day. For January 21, the hymn choice is, “O Mary, Don’t You Weep.” I stared at the title and wondered, “Where is the question mark?” The role of Mary as a grieving mother never registered with me until I lost a child of my own. This day, I read the title empathetically with a sense of anguish for a mother who lost her son.
In hindsight, we know the brutal death of Jesus is quickly followed by the good news of the resurrection and ascension into Heaven. Although I heard about the disciple’s issues and problems, I frankly stopped worrying about Jesus’ Mother when He returned to Heaven. The horror of loss was made more palatable by resurrection and Jesus’ rightful restoration to Heavenly realms.
Now that I am one child short in my home, there’s no question to me that Mary missed her son until the day that she died. Now, I read the song title as, “O Mary, Don’t You Weep?” As a question rather than the command of consolation. More like, Oh, Mary, how much you must weep rather than an admonition for her to stifle her tears because it all works out in the end.
I relate to Jesus’ mother for no other reason than I am separated from my child. My 12-year-old daughter was not the Savior, nor perfect, but still, she was mine. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Mary, a human being like me, grieved her loss. She was a mother who watched her innocent child die in a brutal way. Even if she knew all along that Jesus was only loaned to her, how could she have predicted the events of passion week and beyond?
I have to imagine that, like many of us, Mary had to reconstruct the shaken 500-piece-puzzle-box of her life and adjust to the radical loss she encountered. And, I just bet she wept.