Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Old Barn

It doesn't look like much from far away. The aging, dilapidated barn sits nestled among green fields and small creeks and ponds with only horses and mosquitoes for company. At first glance it appears to be a ramshackle sort of place with broken windows and cobwebbed beams.

Yet, for my mother-in-law, it stores a wealth of memories and stories from her childhood years. This place is all that is left of the dairy farm where she grew up in Afton, Wyoming.

As we wandered through the old barn, listening to mom's recollections of years past, I felt a melancholy kind of sadness come over me. I could picture the barn as it had been back in its prime and wondered how it had come to be the way it was now, broken and in disrepair. It got me thinking about people.

Like the barn, we all start off sturdy and clean with a new coat of paint. As we face life's storms the paint slowly peels and cracks. Windows break. Grime accumulates. Beams and boards warp. And before we know it we are only a shell of our former selves, something that no sandpaper or even a fresh coat of paint can repair.

When others look at us, do they see what's really still there?

Do they look for the story behind each bent nail and loose floorboard or do they only notice the wear and tear, not realizing that it is simply evidence of something more?

Do others notice the beauty of the places where the cracks in the walls and shattered windows have allowed light to shine through?

If we could, what would we choose? To look as striking and solid as we did in our prime, never having to endure any of the pounding hail or lightning strikes that life throws at us - or to tolerate various storms and allow some of life's experience to show through in these bodies that house the person who we truly have become through it all?

At the end of my life I hope I'm like the run-down old barn. Perhaps weather beaten and warped, but well loved because of the experiences and interactions that have made me that way.

And every last measure of who I am bursting with stories of a life lived to the fullest.


Anaise said...

The pictures and the thoughts are beautiful. I find it interesting that I've been having thoughts along a similar line every time I wash and fold the towels that I received as a wedding gift--the old barn being a much more photographically pleasing subject. Are we just at a particular age where we are noticing changes in ourselves and hoping others see beauty?

Gina said...

I love this post. I have great fondness for old barns. I am tempted to pull off the road for all barns ramshackled and take a peek inside. Funny thing, I HATE spiders and webs and getting too dirty and smells etc., but there is something about an old barn.

Deb said...

Thanks for the wonderful thoughts, told beautifully. Reminds me that all trials in our life make us who we are and who we continue to become.

Rachel said...

Love this post! You have a gift with words, and a gift of seeing things metaphorically. Thanks for sharing.

Amanda said...

That's beautiful, Gerberta

Michelle said...

Awesome pictures Gerb! Loved your thoughts as well.

Teachinfourth said...

Your words and images conveyed what you cannot imagine. Or maybe you can.


Mom not Mum said...

beautiful pictures - are these taken with your new camera? I love old barns as well. We went back to my grandparents old farm a few years ago and it was really sad to see that the barn wasn't there anymore. My brother and I spent hours and hours just playing in the old barn. Of course when I think about it now I think about spiders and snakes and mice that were probably in there - but we lived and we had a great time!

cari said...

You are so awesome.

I love that barn!

Gerb said...

Anaise- I think we would have some interesting chats if we were neighbors. I like the way you think. And yes, I do feel like I've reached that age where I am just hoping that others see deeper than my outer self.

Gina- Thank you so much. I also love old barns and buildings. I'm glad I gave you a small glimpse inside this one.

Deb- It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. And I think every trial I've endured has played a major role in who I am. For that, I am grateful, although I was not grateful for the trials at the time I was enduring them.

Rachel- Thank you, and thanks for not only reading but commenting as well.

Amanda- Thanks.

Michelle- I''d love to see the ones Brett took. His camera's a bit fancier than mine. ;)

T5th- I'm sure you've had some of the same thoughts lately as well. Thank you.

MnM- Yes, my new camera is pretty amazing, isn't it? I was really happy with how these turned out.

Cari- You are so sweet. Thanks. It is pretty nifty-looking, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous, slightly-past-her-prime barn! Love her! And what a pretty lady standing there beside her...

I can't help but think we get a little better as we get older, as long as we don't try to fight it, and as long as we try our best to take care of ourselves and live clean. A little patina of life well lived never hurt anything or anyone.


Gerb said...

L- It is a beautiful old barn. And even more so when you hear the stories of the life it has lived. I feel the same as you described - but so often I wonder if others can see beyond the years and know that there is so much more on the inside.

Shellie said...

Beautiful. I'm proud to be turning into an old barn :)

Billings Family said...

Gerb, Thank you for that. I cried my way through it. Its what I needed to read today. You are an inspired amazing woman.I loved the last picture with you standing by it. Love you!

Wade said...

That is very well done, Gerb. It tells exactly how I feel about it, too. I've had a few chances to go through this barn and hear my dad's stories, and now it has some sadness knowing that the house where my dad was born was recently burned down, leaving this old barn as the only structure left on that land from the time that he grew up.

Probably at least 20 years ago I helped put some new roofing on this barn. I'm sure I didn't do a great job, but it is one of my memories. As part of a family reunion we helped to do it for Uncle Lloyd. Then, a few years ago my dad helped take a lot of family children through and it was fun to see the swallow nests on it.

As a kid my dad used to tell the story about how one of his brothers went to the barn and thought he lost his gum and found it 5 times. I'm sure it was just a joke, but it's something I associate with this barn.