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.