Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Stewardship and Housing
I've been stewing over an idea for a while. The house that Melissa and I bought last year was built in 1915. 1915! That's older than any of my grandparents. I can't believe how many people have lived in this house over the last 97 years.
A dear friend of ours has done some research on our behalf and discovered who many of the early occupants of our house were. It is odd for me to think about all these people living in our house. Where did they put their bed? How big was their dining room table? What color did they paint the walls? Did they have a garden? A car? And, even more interesting, what would they think of the way that we are treating the house? Do we park our cars where their kids used to play? Have we done something totally wrong?
These questions fascinate me. I grew up in houses where I felt like nobody had ever lived in other than my family. The houses seemed like blank paper on which we wrote and drew our lives. I simply cannot see our "new" house as a blank paper--at most, we are getting to scribble in the margins.
The real thrust of this line of thinking has made me think about how fleeting life really is. If all of these people have lived in this house before me, it seems likely that a whole bunch will live there after me. Our thinking about our house has to change to fit that model. Instead of seeing our house as something we are slowly consuming, we have to see it as some kind of trust given to us. We hold it as stewards. When we leave, others will take it. Will it be better than it was when we got it? Will the soil be better for gardening? Will the foundation be stronger or weaker? Will the roof leak? Will the windows and trim be painted with precision?
I love the idea of stewardship. May we all aspire to take better care of those things and those people entrusted to us