393: The Tragedy — and the Hope — in a House With a Hole in the Wall …

fter a staff meeting with our writer Stephanie Fenton, who now produces the weekly “Seasons” column for us, Stephanie expressed thanks that she has found a community of media professionals as she starts her own career with her own young family. Right now, media giants are collapsing all around us. This hardly is a safe and secure time to start out as journalist!
    Stephanie’s kind words of appreciation triggered a memory I hadn’t dredged up in quite a while: Thirty-one years ago, when my wife Amy and I were married, I worked for a small newspaper and we had so little money between us that friends let us move free of charge into a tiny wooden cottage they had built on their family farm.
    We were thrilled! As newlyweds, we moved in with some of our kitchen utensils still in boxes trailing the wrapping paper from our wedding reception. We were a little surprised to find the cottage only amounted to — a bedroom, a bathroom and a tiny kitchen with just enough space for two people to squeeze into a table near a window overlooking a pond.
    Cramped! But, this was our heavenly haven.
    Except — when I sat down for the first time to supper, my perspective changed enough that I suddenly could see a brilliant patch of green and blue along one wall. It took a moment for my mind to grasp that this was a hole.
    A hole right through the wall!
    Much later, we learned that an odd accident on the farm had punched a hole the size of a dinner plate clean through the wall. The explanation didn’t matter, though. It was simply a shock to “come home” — for the first time in our married lives — to a house that was radically insecure.
    Our minds raced with all the usual questions: Will bugs get in? What happens when it rains? How can we fix it? If we tell our hosts about this, will they think we’re ungrateful?
    You can imagine.
    Eventually, we papered over both sides of the hole. We lived one wonderful summer in the tiny cottage. The hole never was fixed that summer. On occasion, when it got too hot in what amounted to our little wooden box near the pond — we could peel off the paper and let the breeze flow through that hole.

    As I shared that story with Stephanie, I thought: What a magical story! A hole in the —
    And suddenly I realized: Magical? Wonderful? Beautiful? What am I thinking!?!
    For a couple of weeks now, Amy and I have been wrestling with the effects of another hole in the wall. This one will remain invisible until next week sometime, when a contractor with a backhoe arrives to dig up soil along the back wall of our house. This hole is a crack that has allowed rainwater to trickle into a finished office space.
    We’ve had to clear out that office completely — an enormous task!
    No brilliant green-and-blue summer scenes beam through this hole. No cooling breeze drifts through this opening.

    It’s easy to get discouraged about this. And, we’re not alone. You probably know someone in a similar fix. You may be reading this in damp socks, too! It’s springtime. Countless Americans right now are mopping up and scrubbing down basements. By the time spring storms are over, we’ll probably number in the soggy millions.
    But — there is hope here, too.
    Yes, these are holes in our walls. At first, we think of it as an outrageous discovery. A tragedy — period. Homes shouldn’t have holes! But, throughout my entire lifetime, I’m learning — a house isn’t nearly as secure as we think it is. Homes have holes and some of them surprise us.

    Through one hole in the wall of the ReadTheSpirit Home Office, a black cable carries a high-speed Internet connection so that you can read this story, right now. If you click right here and write an Email, a hole in your house or office wall will send us a note to share with readers and encourage us all in our journey through the spring.
    Yesterday, through those same holes in our walls, I was able to send you all “Three Wishes for Spring” — and some of you already have sent notes in response. We’ll share some of those thoughts in our Friday Reader Roundup.
    Have you discovered Peter Wallace’s wonderful series on the Psalms in another section of our online magazine? Throughout Lent, Peter is sharing daily reflections on the Psalms. He’s the head of the Day1 radio network and a popular inspirational author himself.
    Clearly, Peter’s meditations have been working on my own heart and spirit this spring. As I am writing this reflection on holes in our walls — Psalm 90 keeps running through my mind.

Here’s a paraphrase from this great Psalm that I have loved for many years …

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth;
Before You formed the earth and the heavens — from everlasting to everlasting —
You are God.
For a thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past —
As brief as a watch in the night.
You carry us away like a flood.
As in a sleep.
In the morning, we are like grass that springs up.
First, we flourish and grow.
We wither in the noonday sun and, in the evening, we are cut down.
For all our days pass away so quickly …
We spend our years as a tale that is told.
… O Lord, we pray —
At least, make us glad for as many days as we have suffered.
May your work continue among your servants —
And into the lives of our children.

    Think about it: A house with a hole in the wall?!?
    A tragedy for many.
    Yet, sometimes — those holes?
    They are psalms.
    They are prayers.

COME BACK tomorrow: We’ve got a real treat for readers Wednesday and Thursday this week — a two-part Conversation With Bible scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan on their new book exploring the life of Paul, author of a major portion of the New Testament.

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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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