Bunch of Pricks
The old house? Oh, it is so much a part of me now. It is my heart and soul of homes. I’ll never feel like that again in my life and I know it. But perhaps the experience was for a season only. I never realized that while it was happening. I recall feeling so incredibly happy that I had finally found the one place on earth that felt right to me. The sticking doors and squeaking floors were the voices of the departed. I’ve sat where my grandma sat and I’ve contemplated her many hours of peace within that old house. She was also protected there. It was her refuge as surely as it was mine.
I never owned the old house. Even though I owned the experience and I owned the heartbeat, but I might have to move out some day.
It has taken me a few weeks to get my head around this, but I may have no choice. I began to see the difficulty I might face not long ago. It felt old; it was the same curse that plagued the last generation. The sacredness of the home-place affects everyone deeply, yet the emotions are private for each person affected. I have to remember that the house, the shops, mom’s house and the land means something to several other people on this planet. I’m not the only one who can see the ghosts. I’m not the only one who can go there and feel the warmth of its embrace. It’s easy to become selfish once you’ve been there a while.
I wanted that experience to translate and extend to everyone still living with Della’s blood in their veins, but it is very hard to do while living with the ghosts. We’d get up together each morning and have coffee together. Yes, we would walk the property together. Sometimes, daddy would work with me in the old house, late into the night. I could feel him there. I thought he was smiling while I was cleaning, clearing and rebuilding. I would get lost in a project and the project would seem to be swallowing me whole when suddenly, I would feel daddy nudging me in a new direction and, just as suddenly, the project would begin to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Friends and other family members did a lot to help me there. Bill and I did a lot of the initial cleanup together. Someone would loan me a tool I needed just in time. Neighbors would come over, almost mysteriously, at just the moment when I would need help lifting something. It wasn’t like I’d call them over; they’d just appear at exactly the instant when I was about to take on something too heavy.
In spite of all the opposition I faced in the beginning, I always knew I was on the right path because the doors would simply open as I needed them to. The renovation seemed to go according to plan; yet it really didn’t feel as if it was my plan at all. The ghosts were there all the time. I faced a few pricks along the way, but they didn’t stop progress.
In recent months, things began to change. The garden would barely produce; my gas heaters would not heat the old house and when the weather turned hot, the window units would not cool it. I was fighting termites and drafts. It was still a very glorious home, but I was not comfortable.
I began dreaming up ways to remedy the problem. I thought I’d renovate mom’s house or build another house. Of course I knew I would have to work out a lot of details to make that work, but I had gotten used to working out details. However, the more I tried to keep moving forward, the more the ghosts complained. This could not be the right path. I was faced with way too much opposition. A big yellow sheet of paper with red letter appeared on my back door; “Stop Work” it simply said. Those pricks.
I didn’t see this as my only sign, but rather one of so many signs. All of the doors were closing. The old house patted me on the head and said, “It’s okay. I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?” I wondered.
This is not what I expected, but that could be said of my last two years. When I ended up in mom’s basement in my 49th year, I looked around and thought, this is not what I expected. When I found a way to clean up the old place and when I found a way to buy it, I thought, this is not what I expected. When I got the old house habitable again, I thought, this is not what I expected. Now that phase is over and I have no idea what happens next; not what I expected.
All of this has been made possible by a series of miracles. I am so grateful. I am a better man. It’s only when I began to think that I had done it all by myself that the miracles ceased. This caused me to scramble for a while. Everything I touched was breaking. I finally got quiet and it began to hit me; it’s not up to me; it never was up to me. The miracles were not my doing.
All I can tell you is that I finally got peace again by accepting my humanness again. None of these things happened because I am good; they happened because they were supposed to happen. I was just one gear in the clock; all of the other functions were simply not me. You might think the opposite to be true, but this has been exactly what I needed to restore my faith. I now realize that whatever happens going forward will be just as miraculous as everything I just experienced; it may not be what I want, but as crazy as it sounds, I still believe there is a path ahead of me, not a jungle where I carve one.
A prick was something like a prod used to move horses, mules or livestock around many years ago. They were a very sharp, spear-like poker and that’s where we get the word “prick”. If an animal didn’t want to feel that pointy prick, it would follow the master’s plan and everything would be okay somehow.
In The Book of Acts, Paul was having a really hard time. Nothing seemed to be going his way. Jesus, with his dry sense of humor, said to Paul, “It’s hard to kick against the pricks isn’t it?”