Bigger On The Inside
I love exploring “abandoned” places. One of my favourite places near here is the North 40 dog park near Boundary Bay airport. I love walking the paths that were once suburban streets, ducking in and out of the spaces where family homes once stood, and rambling through the cherry and apple trees that were once picked clean by hungry children and parents looking for a cheap way to fill hungry tummies. I know that with the tearing down of those houses there was the loss of a community bound together not merely by proximity, but by a shared need for support during uncertain times. I visit that space often and I have never been alone there – it’s incredibly popular with bird watchers, photographers, dog walkers, historians, film makers – everyone I see there clearly gleans some joy from the place.
I loved that big old yellow house out on Highway 10 too. There’s something about a relatively grand dwelling, overcome by the weeds once kept so assiduously controlled that is irresistible to the imagination-perhaps because it requires so little effort to picture the life that once existed there. How does something, once so integral to a family, fall into decay like that? Did the last person to leave carefully lock the doors and windows so intruders could not destroy the thing no one even wanted? Places like these are dolls houses for grown ups – back drops to imagine whatever you may wish to project onto them with wistful temerity. I’ve heard that house was occupied by several large families who never could have bought such a house and it lent grandeur to that period of their lives. I’ve been told a book was written with that house at the centre of the story, movies were in and around it, and for many it was the landmark by which they knew they were nearly home from long summers spent in far off places.
I’m in a cogitative mood today. Tomorrow is the memorial service for a friend and I don’t want to go. Maybe that’s the wrong way to put it – what I mean is, I don’t want it to exist. I don’t want to join and celebrate her life – I want her to be here. I don’t want to close the book or even remember her! I want to be with her, talk to her and hear her laugh NOW, I don’t want to think of her in the past tense. And I know the gathering together of all her friends will make her absence real and the gaping empty space where she should stand will be completely out of proportion to her physical presence. Coffins are always too small. It is ridiculous to think all the things she was and is could be contained in such a small vessel.
And I guess that’s where I’m going with this. As with the deserted house, the abandoned village – they leave traces, fodder for growth far beyond anything the original inhabitants ever intended or could have foreseen. The place they loved for being home evolved as time passed and continues to bring richness and joy to the lives of people with no knowledge, memory or connection to the “original” plan. And we’re right back at the beginning again – God can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine – and he can indeed fit the enormity of a soul into a small human body. And thank God for that!