The buildings were every bit as bad as the realtor had warned us they would be. Most of them looking as if it would only take one or two more gusts of wind to bring them down completely. The house was the best of the buildings, but it was crooked and leaning, several boards were missing on the upstairs wall and you could see inside. It must have been abandoned years ago, I thought, but then I noticed a thin wisp of smoke coming from the chimney and a woman stepped out on the porch and hollered for us to come in.
The realtor led the way down the muddy hillside to the house. "Come on in," the woman said, "Uncle Earl would like to meet you. He lives here alone and doesn't get to see a lot of people."
I hoped the house would be able to hold our combined weight as we walked up on the rotten, sagging porch. When she opened the door I could have cried at what I saw inside.
The room was dark and tiny. There was a dry sink along one wall, a tiny table pushed up against the other wall where 96 year old Uncle Earl was sitting smiling widely at us revealing his three remaining teeth. He was happy to see us and talked for a while. Beside him was an ancient wood stove, on the wall behind it was an ancient clock so covered in dust and grime you could barely see its face. He had some battered old pots and pans hanging on the wall. The walls had been painted a weird green years ago. The floor had a 1920's style linoleum that was completely worn through in the most traveled parts. The entire floor slanted toward the middle of the house.
The niece led us to the next room. His bedroom. An old lumpy twin sized bed was pushed up against the wall. Across the room was his long deceased wife's twin size bed. The pictures on the walls looked as if they should be in a museum, the furniture again was ancient, probably the furniture they had brought into the house back in 1842 when the house had been built. It didn't look as if anything had been cleaned since his wife had died twenty some years ago.
She led us upstairs to see two little bedrooms, still made up like his wife had them, but now buried under years of accumulated dirt and dust. This side of the house had only two bedrooms. The other side had another staircase leading to three more bedrooms, one of which had part of the outside wall missing.
This must have been an absolutely gorgeous home back in its prime, but now it was the saddest thing I had ever seen.
Uncle Earl too stubborn to move sits at his table all day long with nothing to do. Clinging desperately to the past and what used to be. Refusing to embrace anything new. He doesn't have an indoor bathroom, no running water, no phone, no TV. Nothing at all really.
As sad as I felt for Uncle Earl living like he is, I couldn't help but think of the spiritual picture it paints of someone who holds onto the past and can't let go of grudges or wrongdoings. The image of a "heart house" so overburdened by unforgiveness is sobering.
Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me. Psalms 51:10
Excerpt taken from my now closed, second blog. March 2017