Not so long ago, my husband, Richard, and I picked a beautiful afternoon to ride the back roads. Not long into our trip, we came upon an old home place that brought overwhelming emotion to my heart and mind. A few hundred yards from the road was the remains of an old house. We pulled over and got out of the car for a closer look. The windows were broken, the door was hanging by a hinge and there was a deep sag in the roof. Apple trees were a short distance away, with the past season’s fruit here and there on the ground. My heart saddened as I began to daydream of what once was. As I gazed at the house, my mind’s eye viewed smoke coming from the chimney. I could almost smell the aroma of hot biscuits and bacon coming from the kitchen window. Children’s laughter was coming from the doorway.
“Here’s an old well”, Richard called out, bringing me back to reality. “Careful now, stand back. This well is no longer a good thing, but a dangerous one that needs to be filled.”
Just as my husband had suspected, there was a well. It had provided water to parched little ones as they ran home from play. This water had nourished livestock and helped in food preparation. It had provided baths and clean soft sheets for beds at night. Only a trained eye would have suspected a water supple at this location.
Richard had worked with two conservation districts after his retirement with the Federal Government. Part of his responsibility was closing old wells at home sites that had been abandoned. He explained to me that this is important in the preservation of our ground water. With open wells no longer in use, debris of various kinds can enter the well and pollute our water table, causing contamination of one of our most precious commodities. Even today as we ride the country side, Richard points out spots where more than likely there is an open well. He explained that groves of old apple trees many times represent a sign of an old home place and a well. I thought about how at some point in time someone cleared this spot and brought his beloved wife here to build a house. He dug a well and planted trees for his family.
We walked to the other side of the house and saw the remains of an old barn where cattle had been fed and cared for. I wondered how many children had called this home and I wondered if they smiled when they reminisced of days gone by.
As we drove away, I thought of the never-ending supply of living water God makes available to us. Many times weeds grow up and no one can tell there’s water for life’s weary traveler. I reflected on the debris that had muddied the spiritual water of my own life for so many years. Letting go of selfishness, fear, worry and anger had not been easy for me. But I knew, as God’s child, I was not living the abundant life He had promised me. Very painstakingly, over a period of time and with God’s patience, I came to a place I will never leave. Letting go and letting God have control brought a peace that passes understanding. After getting my eyes off myself, I began to see other thirsty children along life’s way. He desires for me to spray encouraging words, give sprinkles of kindness and splashes of joy all over His children. He wants me to keep my well visible to all that get thirsty along life’s way. As the old house faded in the background, I whispered, “Lord keep the debris out and your water cool and clear in my life.”
Antje, when I see an old, abandonded property, I feel such a sense of sadness, and I, too, see the little children running around in the yard, while the mother is hanging clothes on the clothesline. I wonder who it was that chose this land to live and build their dreams on. Thank you for your wonderful ability to take me there, to another time and another place!