If These Walls… (Part 2)
Come, see the glorious works of the LORD…
Be still and know that I am God (Psalms 46:8a; 10a — NLT).
We sat on the old front porch, swinging like girls on the porch swing.
The men were men–surveying the property, walking its boundary lines. Four year old Ian and two year old Jacob played nearby with their cousins Khristina, Joshua and Jonathon–the older one taking great care not to allow his younger brother to get too close to the creek, which parallels the road just beyond the porch.
My sister-in-law Becky–a nurse who planned to move with us, along with her family, to work with her brother in his practice–sat with me, and we listened to the sound of the water, the laughter of our children and the song of birds. It was my 32nd birthday, and I couldn’t have asked for a better gift–the prospect of a home in the country, acres of green all around, and a plan for our future.
We were then living in Indianapolis, and although our home was on a quieter city street than most–tree-lined, with a prolific population of squirrels–it was a far cry from the sincerity of Stevens Creek in the White Oak Community of Waynesville, NC. Bill was in his last year of residency, and we were looking for a place to land–where he could set up his orthopedic spine practice, and we could raise our boys. We desired a farm where we could live with our extended family, but we knew it might be awhile before we’d find the right spot. We were all willing to wait–rent in town for a season, if need be.
How surprised we were when we discovered a house on almost fifty acres in a realtor’s guide less than a week earlier. We’d come to Waynesville by ourselves–Bill and me–to interview with the small community hospital in Haywood County. It was then that a realtor had taken us for a day to look at houses and see the surrounding area. But she’d not shown us the small cottage in the country, and it wasn’t until that evening, back in our bed and breakfast, that Bill discovered the property in a packet of papers she’d left with us.
It looked perfect, but we weren’t sure how far from the hospital it was, and we knew we couldn’t be farther than twenty minutes outside of town. We decided to leave the inn early the next morning and drive our rental car to the hospital, then time ourselves to the house to see if it was a possibility. Our flight home to Indiana was in the afternoon, so we’d have plenty of time.
It was a Sunday, and we left after an early breakfast. Starting at the hospital, we drove to the property–discovering it took exactly twenty-two minutes. That was doable. A sign out front had a number, and Bill called it. A woman answered. She was the realtor, but she was also the daughter of the owners–selling it on their behalf. She told us she was about to take it off the market, sharing that there’d only been one other family seriously interested–though she’d not heard back from them. Although she wasn’t able to show us the property that day, she promised to leave it on the market and show it to us the following week, if we were able to return. Was that a possibility?
Bill and I decided we could make the return trip, and we thanked her for her time. We’d see her the next week. “Would Thursday, September 13th work?” we’d asked. And she confirmed. It was a date.
Then suddenly, the whole world came to a stand still. Two days later–Tuesday, September 11, 2001–Twin Towers fell into an ash heap, and humankind stood by breathless, watching. It seemed the world would never be the same.
But somehow, despite the heaviness of loss and guttural fear, dreams resurfaced, and life went on–a reminder that darkness can never squelch light, only cast shadows. We packed up our vans that Thursday–Bill, me and our boys, as well as Bill’s sister, her husband and their children–and drove south. I remember how we commented on how strange the empty sky seemed–not an airplane in sight, no contrail clouds fingerprinting white across the blue.
Arriving that afternoon, with a bucket of KFC, we ate while we waited for the realtor to arrive. Then the children played, the men surveyed and the women–we swayed on the porch, with eyes and ears wide open. “I just keep thinking of the Psalm that says, ‘Be still and know that I am God’,” I told Becky. “What’s that word that means ‘to pause… to stop and think’? Is it ‘selah’?”
Selah — Hebrew, meaning “to praise, to pause and reflect”
Hence, a farm was born–Selah Farm.
Because we knew that very day–that best birthday ever–that this home would be a place where many would come–to pause. To praise. To offer thanks to God for His goodness. His faithfulness. His love.
And as the realtor later took us from room to room, then up an old narrow staircase that ascended into more spaces above, each seemed to echo–
…[These] would tell you that I’m sorry
for bein’ cold and blind and weak;
[These] would tell you that it’s only
that I have a stubborn streak.
If these walls could speak…
I had no idea then how these old walls–walls to which I’m still learning to listen–would…
Call for connection…
Beckon, in hushed tones, for healing…
Cry out for forgiveness.
But they have.
These walls have connected one nephew to his wife, whose mother grew up in our home.
They’ve been added to and fortified by a young man who married my niece. As a blossoming architect, he helped draft the plans that later became an addition to these walls, completed in 2008.
These walls heard the cries of a mother’s broken heart after the loss of a girl who’d come to stay but didn’t–her absence shouting louder than had her presence, for a time.
Dakota and Khristina just celebrated the birth of their third child–Audrey Jewel, pictured here with big sis Katelynn and brother Luke.
These walls then knew the quiet season of waiting. Boys grew from wee ones to older children, then adolescents–trading the inside play of Matchbox cars for real motorcycles. They’d ride outside, and that same mother would watch from windows–praying for safety, her anxious breath captured on panes of glass. Those windows, like eyes.
I guess they would have seen it all,
Each little tear and sigh and footfall…
And then, those windows offered a vision of a Girl who did come to stay–as this same woman, now older, watched and waited for her arrival that late spring Saturday morning. The Girl came carrying a suitcase, and these walls have never been the same–echoing with her laughter, sometimes her cries. The walls of her room–though newer walls, part of the addition to the old ones–hold her secrets, spoken in whispers when lights are out. She’s creating her own memories, held within that sacred space. Oh–
If these walls could speak…
Perhaps she, after hearing the song with her momma so many times, has sung in the quiet of night–after so much loss and sometimes the fear of more…
Here’s someone who really loves you;
Don’t ever go away…
… what these walls would say.
(Taken from Amy Grant’s “If These Walls Could Speak”–by Jimmy Webb)
Be still and know that He is God.