The souls of places
Ever since the fire on Sunday, we’ve spent a lot of time going back to the house for stuff. Often, this means we’re at the house after dark. So, flashlights it is, as we move from room to room, trying to locate that one item which would have been easy to find, if only the lights were on.
It hurts my soul to be there.
I’ve been in vacant houses. A vacant house isn’t someone’s home yet. It’s a blank sheet of paper, awaiting the human touch. There’s a sense of expectation and possibility in a house.
I’ve been in occupied houses. An occupied house is imprinted with the personality of its occupants. Whether or not that’s good depends on who those people are, but there is a sense of presence in the house. Like the house has a soul.
That’s not what my house has felt like. My house has felt like a ruin.
Now, before I get ahead of myself, I need to make clear that I’m not talking about fire damage or the like. There were no flames, and the smoke smell should be gone after the cleaners get done.
No, I’m talking about that sense of a house having a soul.
Our house’s soul is gone. Instead, it feels like a foreign place that ought to be familiar somehow. I look at these rooms, and I cannot see the place where I live. It’s like my house died.
We were in the middle of scrounging dinner, so dishes and decaying food are scattered through various rooms. The ordinary debris of life with six children, which would have been cleaned on Monday (well, mostly…) clutters the floor. The heat is off, and the house is cold. Crystal’s Christmas village is plunged into darkness.
Yeah, it’s not forever, and sure, they’re fixing it. But for now, darkness and emptiness hold sway over my house.
And if I had written this post on Thursday, I would have ended here. But there’s a little more.
Thursday night, Crystal and I went down to the house. But something was different. That night, the Degenharts had come to our house and cleaned. They washed the dirty dishes. They tidied the rooms downstairs. They swept. They put the house back into order.
And what a difference this made. Now, it’s a little easier to see my home, waiting for me to return. Maybe it’s not dead, only sleeping.
So, Degenharts, the Ben-Ezras thank you. Thank you for coming and taking care of our home when we could not. Thank you for lifting this burden from us. Thank you for coming alongside us when we needed it.
(And thank you for cleaning out the refrigerators, too. Because that’s smelly work.)