I stood gazing at the starkness of the place that had once been vibrant with life and character.
My revisit, to the home that I’d grown up in, came about because of past memories sneaking into my mind during those quiet lulls in life.
My intention was that, this Christmas when visiting relations, I would check out my old abode - and now I was here - and disappointed! ‘Why have I come back? - I should have known better.’
The farm belonging to Peerky Pickles (the nickname given to Farmer Peerson), and his Dutch barn, had disappeared. The stack had always been crammed with hay like an over stuffed scarecrow and was right next to our cinder yard - separated only by a broken down stone wall - now all were gone! So too were the three giant oaks that rustled in the breeze and gave me a feeling of security as they lulled me to sleep at night.
Now just stark new development all around.
Gone too was the outside lavatory that had been on the far side of the ash yard (good riddance). All that racing in the dark, my little legs going faster than a cheetah’s in chase; fear taught me to speed-up those functions and scuttle back inside before Mr Bogeyman got me. When a local loner made a spooky visit to the hay barn one night, and howled like a wolf, my increased fear accelerated my pace even more. I needed a gun to feel safe after that.
The daytime amble across to the toilet was a more leisurely event, and on the way back a checkout of the neighbour’s henhouse was a must. Squashing my nose up tight on the scruffy window I could see those lovely brown eggs in the nest boxes and the hens strutting around clucking and fussing. I longed to smash a boiled one with a spoon. It never happened - the hens’ owner was mean.
My pet jackdaw kept stealing the henhouse keys from his hiding place. It would jangle them before fluttering off to find him a better hidey-hole. Jack eventually went missing. Dad said that the nasty hen-man probably poisoned him.
I thought about the inside of my old home. The underground cellar was our fridge - another eerie place. I had a nightmare that a hobgoblin chased me up the cellar steps. I don’t think I ever had full courage to go down there after that. Once, Mam put me a cooked chicken on its cold slab when she went on holiday. I left it, and it was still fresh on her return - good refrigeration I’d say.
After giving my life to Jesus my bedroom became my spiritual sanctuary. Light and darkness fought out battles for my soul, in this room, at night. Visions and apparitions came from both sides of the struggle. Gloomy and fearful manifestations by evil spirits paralyzed me - only my crying out to Jesus would overcome their dark powers. One night an apparition of a trinity of evil manifested itself. They were like thousands of vile and loathsome snakes all condensed into their dark and fearsome appearance. They speedily withdrew when Jesus was called on.
In contrast to the dark experiences that occurred in my room: Jesus the Lord appeared one night to me in a vision. He showed me the scars on his wrist just above his hands, and the deep marks on his feet which had been made by the bulky heads of the spikes being driven deep into his feet. He spoke in the most holy voice I’d ever heard and when he departed it was as though there were holy billows both inside and outside of my home - the Lord had indeed passed by.
All this rich experience - now extinguished by time. No! It will always be there - the history of the past cannot be wiped out.
I refrained from knocking on the door to make myself known. The lifelessness of the area kept such an intention at bay.
Instead, I stood there and thanked God for a mam who had loved us so well, a dad who had partnered me in my hobbies and showed an interest in my successes, an elder brother I loved, but who unfortunately died in his teens and a big sister who kept me in check.
It had been meaningful coming home this Christmas.
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