Wednesday, November 05, 2014

This Old House

Our family received some heartbreaking news today. Our ancestral home in the rural area outside of Nashville, Arkansas, burned down this morning. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the blaze. The old house, where my mother was born, holds so many memories to so many of us. Another family lived there when it went up in flames but the childhoods of a generation were played out there in a dwelling I would guess was built by our relatives one hundred years ago. The picture above is the last home we lived in in York, Nebraska. It holds so many remembrances and I could not bear to post a picture of the home of Jord and Ruth Chesshir in ashes. Some things should be shared only with flesh and blood. The following is from Christmas Day, 2010.

Merry Christmas from Kansas. We (Dave, Sally, and me) are heading back to Wichita from the hamlet of Hugoton where resides the Dave Kurt family. The Kurts are Sally’s sister, Shelley, her husband, Dave, their daughters Emily and Rachel, and their son, David Michael. We arrived in Hugoton early afternoon on Thursday and were joined yesterday by Sally’s other sister, Susan, her husband, Phil, and their youngest child, Mary. Even though I am a borderline relative, they treated me with next of kin status, a terrific honor. This has been how I always envisioned Christmas should be celebrated- as a family. Not everyone is blessed with that kind of family. Sometimes through marriage, we are blessed to be part of more than one.

The Kurts live in a big house on Main Street in Hugoton. Their home is closing in on its one hundredth birthday and is in many ways like the houses in which my friends and I grew up back in Nebraska. In the upstairs bathroom, copies of This Old House magazine grace the reading stand and obviously the remodeling advice has been put into practice. Dave and Shelley have labored over the past dozen years to make it the neatest house I've been inside since I can't remember when. But a house without inhabitants is just another building. Over the past forty-eight hours, the walls encased blazes in the fireplace and singing of Christmas songs around an aged piano with Shelley at the ivories. There were non-stop contests of Nerts at the kitchen table and Dr. Mario games on the big screen television in the den. The food was plentiful with Dave doing most of the culinary work and making sure every celebrant was well-supplied. This morning, we spent several enjoyable hours opening presents with most of the gifts going to the four cousins who will return to college and high school in ten days very fashionably attired. And as we pass the half way mark on our return to Wichita, I am reminded why this is increasingly a unique family in our fragmented culture. During our time together, there was an abundance of love evident but also noteworthy is what was missing. There was no quarreling, no alcohol, no profanity, and no anger. The focus in conversations was on academic successes, mission trips, future family vacations, and a genuine interest in each other's well-being. There was teasing- I took my share over wardrobe choices and Sally's attempts to make me presentable- but the fun was good natured and never mean. I laughed as much as I have laughed in a long time and that in itself is a precious gift.

There is something that always draws us home even though what we call home might be as transient as those we call our family. It's interesting that Jesus was born, not in his parents' hometown of Nazareth, but in Bethlehem, the hometown of the true patriarch of the family, David, King of Israel. We know that while He was born in a stable, His folks had moved into a house by the time the Magi arrived from their Eastern lands. I bet Mary and Joseph made that modest dwelling into a home. My guess is there was plenty of laughter along with the love and joy that accompanies the birth of a child, especially the firstborn of a family and one the young couple knew came about miraculously. I doubt there was a decorated tree but nobody could ever surpass the gold, incense, and myrrh presents given in honor of the child who was THE CHILD of all ages. There is no scriptural evidence that Jesus ever returned to Bethlehem but He did promise to prepare a home for His followers that defies description. There won't be creaky stairs or wiring issues but there will be love and joy and peace. You know, I think have an inkling of heaven now- I got a sneak preview this week.

Applicable quote of the day:
"A house that does not have one worn, comfy chair in it is soulless."

May Sarton

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Warren Baldwin said...

Merry Christmas. And I live about 30 min from where you are writing about. Next time you are in the area let me know!

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