Poem: Finding the Way

Finding the Way

Rain outside. A hint of coolness on a summer’s day.
Dark clouds. The sound of it. The smell.
Through the window you see an abandoned house
and feel that familiar yearning,
the need to explore, to visit the nearly dead,

It has been a long time since your last restoration,
a rebuilding beyond imagining. Even then,
you moved forward more from faith
that the work put in would be something better,
even if you could not actually envision
just what better might be.

Not like houses, where you see the work,
Do this and that is better. A simple equation.
Do this and you begin to see the beauty.
Not so with therapy.
Do this and find new holes, new scars.
Do it again and watch it get worse.
It is faith that moves you forward,
a faith born of living at the bottom of your soul,
Trusting anything, anything at all, is a step out.

You give in to the urge. You nearly always do.
Stepping into the rain. Walking around the brick house,
taking in details. The brickwork. The age. The proportions.
Seeking the way in, the weak point, the broken window
or hanging door. You are good at this now.
You nearly always find the way.

You can say the same for your own restoration.
Repetition brings skill. transforms faith into sureity.
Deep breath and prayers. A willingness to peer
into dark corners, a willingness to see the brokeness
not with despair but with an eye towards
the how and the why of it all. What led you
to the brokenness, to seek the bones of it all
and begin there.

And so you go through the house.
Poking into the dark corners. Imagining the work,
the steps, imagining what it could be.
Searching your heart as to whether you have
another restoration in you.
You are not certain. Still, you are drawn
to the things still standing. Aware of the courage
it takes to continue after abandonment.
Aware that what you envision, what could be,
is not nearly the fantasy others might believe.

And then, back to the car. Back on your own journey.
Made somehow richer by this time in the near-death
of this nineteenth-century house. Given confidence
in the power of restoration. Glad for your own. Glad
for the few you have done for others. Glad
to be good at something, watching the rain.
listening, smelling the summer.
A good place to live.
You nearly always find the way.

About this poem.

Semi-autobiographical. The house is on a battlefield in Manassas, Va. I do find my way into abandoned buildings more often than my wife would like. I am an evangelist for good therapy. I know broken. I know restored.

Restored is better.


One comment

  1. Thank you – encouraging perspective worth several readings
    Several times in the last 30 years I’ve wandered inside my grandmother’s old farm-house – abandoned except that hunters camp there on and off. Each visit, more settling evident, the house a bit closer to collapse. Yet likely will still stand after my ultimate collapse. I have many childhood memories within those walls, but on each visit I am drawn more to curiosity about all the walls hold that I will never know.
    And reading this, I realize I do not know all that’s held within my own heart/memory walls. Motivation to stick around as long as possible, to keep finding treasures.

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