Sunday, September 13, 2009

A shift in vision

I was driving along the lake shore road recently, and I found myself looking a bit enviously at the magnificent mansions people had erected along the lake. The towering brick homes communicated grandeur and stability; the well-appointed grounds bespoke tranquility and order. I sighed, perhaps with a bit of covetousness - I knew families who lived in some of those homes, and some of my kids had friends who lived in some of those them. I look at places like that as I drove past, but knew I'd never be able to provide a home like that for my family - they were well beyond anything I could afford.

But still, but still, it would be nice, my frantic imagination protested as I backed into the driveway of the old, weed-beset two-story that had been our home for 25 years. The siding was faded and the chimney was chipping and the front window was cracked. It was anything but a mansion, but it was what we'd been able to afford while raising our six children. With another sigh, I glanced back in the direction of the magnificent lake shore homes which contrasted so starkly with mine.

Then my vision blurred a bit, and my sight took on a new perspective. The miles seemed to drop away, and the intervening houses and trees stepped aside, and again I saw the houses along the lake as if I were standing just in front of them. But this time my eyes showed a different picture. Gone were the clean new bricks and grand picture windows; instead I saw leaning and tumbling piles of bricks shored up with broken and rotting timbers. Tattered curtains blew in and out through broken windows, and gaping holes yawned in poorly shingled roofs. In place of well-tended lawns there were patches of weeds amidst untended sand. Where polished oak doors had stood now splintered shards hung from broken hinges, and the garages were littered with debris.

Aghast, I looked back at my home. But standing there was no longer the simple house I expected; instead there stood a stone castle of six towers. The towers were anchored into solid bedrock, and stood high and strong, their stones solidly joined and well-mortared. The towers were connected by high walls also made of stone, so that each tower not only stood strong but supported, and was supported by, its brethren. The towers and walls were topped by strong battlements, and above them all fluttered a white banner. On the sides stood two other towers, joined to the structure by more walls, and those in turn were joined to other towers fading away into the distance.

Now, this was a mansion, I thought. Not something thrown together to please the eye or impress visitors, but a solid, lasting structure that would serve a purpose and last for generations, one that could be built upon and expanded in the years to come. I wondered what had happened to the houses along the lake, and why they had fallen so quickly.

Then my vision blurred again, and before me I again saw our simple home, and was content.

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