I mentioned in my previous post that I have begun to work on some new projects. One of these is fixing up my cottage that is located in the New York State Catskills nestled in the hills of Sullivan County.
About two years ago I got some land with the cottage on it. Lovely little building that used to sit on the nearby lake but over 70 years ago before someone relocated it up the hill and settled it on the property that I now own. The cottage sits on a grassy ridge overlooking a meadow. All together I have two acres of land.
Although a nice looking structure, years of neglect left it desperately in need of a new roof, some other structural work and major clean-up. The floors sag from rot. In other words it is not yet ready for habitation. But last week workers finished the roof, so it will no longer leak, and I can begin to get to work on the interior. My plans include keeping it simple. A wood stove for the heating system. A composting toilet. Some solar panels to help with the electricity. And clean open spaces. In the meadow I will plant some fruit trees–apple, pear, peaches–then put berry bushes along the border of the meadow–blueberry, blackberry, etc. Some of the land I will let go wild to give animals a place to live.
Now I am not one for physical exertion. I hate breaking a sweat, but after five years of doing lots of brain work, it felt great getting dirty and sweaty this weekend as I worked on the property. While working remembered the first job I got when I attended Nyack College back in 1983. An elderly couple needed someone to clear out the brush from their back garden. I worked for three days steady clearing bushes and weeds and trees that had grown up over twenty years. Such satisfying work (I guess I can see why President Bush prefers brush clearing on his Crawford ranch to his actual job).
Saturday would have been my 17th wedding anniversary. October 6th. That date crushed me every year since our separation and subsequent divorce. I used to fill up with shame and regret and sadness. I couldn’t face the end of the marriage. For years I couldn’t even go through the few things I had in storage from the time of the marriage. This year I remembered the date, but did not feel the weight of it.
They say time heals wounds. Perhaps. For me art and prayer and tears and talking and counseling and friends have brought the deepest healing in my life. For so long I felt like my leaky broken cottage. Broken in part because of wrong choices, mainly the choice to live a heterosexual life instead of facing the reality of my orientation thus causing pain and suffering for the people I loved.
For the past 9 1/2 years, as I emerged from the ex-gay life I lived, I have been rebuilding my life. I have pulled down walls, riped up floors–deconstructed before I could begin any kind of reconstruction. Severe work, dirty work–the basics. I labored to make my life habitable and had little time for window dressing or gardening.
The wonder of our lives is that we can rebuild. We can heal. We can emerge, scarred perhaps, but also strong and healthy and ready to embrace life anew. No wonder the resurrection and spring and the phoenix and all the ancient symbols of new life speak so deeply to so many people. They are not just old stories for us to celebrate, but hopeful patterns for us to experience today.
I know that people reading this blog have suffered genuine heartache and loss and damage because of their time in the ex-gay movement, or a marriage to a spouse who tried to go straight, or because of religious teachings designed to cage us instead of free us, and all sorts of other forms of abuse. Sometimes it feels absolutely hopeless. It can seem like the walls and ceiling have fallen on our heads, and that survival, let alone a peaceful fulfilling need life, seems impossible.
Yeah, I know that feeling. That deflated exhausted feeling. So exhausted that the thought of making a move winded me, weighed me down to the point it became an accomplishment to just get out of bed. Some of you know what I’m talking about. Plowing through that muck takes energy and support. Not something we can do alone, although it seems we to go it alone much of the time.
What is that scripture I heard quoted so many times? Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Some nights last for far too L O N G. We may pine for the night to engulf us and silence the pain. But yet a crazy spark remains in us, sometimes mirrored for us in our friends and those who love us best. We hear a word or a story or see an image that gives us hope, even for a brief moment, and me continue to press through the muck.
One day, someone very dear to you will thank you for the all the hard work you have done to rebuild this precious life of yours.