Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
TITLE: This Place Called Home
By Carol Sprock
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Often we question the seeming rapture of these strangers, wondering what spell causes them to linger, some regularly with an almost fierce loyalty. About fifteen years ago, after my parents completely revamped the landscaping, several people drove to the door and voiced disgruntlement that trees surviving ice storms, passing tornado winds, and climbing children had been slaughtered. Little did they care about the disease in some or the threat to roof and power lines by others. To them the place looked shorn, disheveled, somehow compelling them to express their resentment, astonishing my parents with their boldness. What entitlement gave them the right to question so angrily, as if some rebellious teen had deliberately acted to destroy this verisimilitude of deep intimacy afforded by the previous enchanting mirage? We remain mystified; despite the protests, people continue to pause and gaze.
This strange sense of ownership is not limited to outsiders, for on my last visit home, Mom mentioned how her siblings, my aunts and uncles, had recently commented again about the twice-a-year family gatherings at our place, when everyone was young, as if it were their homestead as well as ours. Cousins continue to visit without invitation, wandering trance-like through the house, across the yards. Long-lost acquaintances suddenly reappear and seem to welcome themselves, as though not a day has passed, taking up their roles as if key players in some ever-weaving legend. Perhaps this chord of connection rings with such brilliance because together we share a history of countless events, most significant only because of their repetition, their humble commonality. Yet how to explain their sense of grounding, their mystical “here I belong” confirmation, ephemeral to us but vibrantly real to them?
My bond is rock solid for this is where I became me, arriving as a two-year-old with fine blond hair and now visiting in middle adulthood overshadowed by gray. For me the place quivers palpably. Echoes resonant from softball games won and lost, from lawn mowers and rakes, from laughter and weeping. These lisped lyrics entwine in a minor counter-harmony with varied bird songs, frantic frolics of black squirrels, and deep-throated wind chimes in the trees.
Wherever I look, I see what-is-now overlaid by what-used-to-be. Over there by the birdbath is where I lost a baby tooth, and all three brothers rushed to help me search under each blade of grass until it was found. This depression of violets is where my willow tree used to stand, the one I climbed and nested in for so many hours. And here is where the raspberry patch finally ended up after great-great-great-generations of vines slowly crept from the neighbor’s front yard down the backyard fence and into our backfield, following the sunspots which shifted over the years as trees and bushes grew ever taller, casting lengthening shadows.
I too have grown, have moved, redistributing myself in my travels along the pathway of God’s Son. What captures me, what slows me down is not some magical charm. Instead, what causes me to pause and gaze is the resonance of my history in this ongoing journey that began with teetering baby steps at this place glimmering with hints of an everlasting Eden, at this place called home.
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