Sunday, July 12, 2009

Old Stuff 7/13/09

Old Stuff 

Heavy overcast and rain approaching. You can see it coming from the west Wind 1-3 mph, Temp 78F Low tonight 58 F High Monday 79F

The old log house is gone. Remember the log house that I showed you last summer and winter? It is located on the corner of Gushchinstraya and the driveway leading along the south side of our building. You don't know Gushchinstraya? I digress:

Last year the street that connects our street and our building's driveway was a dirt road full of potholes and mounds of trash. Last fall someone laid sidewalks and paved the street next to an apartment that was in the final construction phase. I suspect it was them.

Anyway, the day it was paved, President Gushchin, the mission driver, was to take us shopping and as he drove west down the driveway from the office to the little dirt street we realized that he might get stuck in the new blacktop and as we turned the corner (left onto the street) we shouted "stop". We explained the danger and he said, "I will be first", put it into low and drove up the incline that produces Gushchin lake at that spot in the spring and zoomed down the street. From that day it was called Gushchinstraya by all of us and we love to tell the story to a new audience.

Well, anyway, if you look at the far distance on the right you can see a tree and the roof of the log house on the corner. Here is a close-up of the house's south side and the front window. Since the whole north side was caved in and the tin roof was pulled up and even missing in spots, we believed that it was abandoned, but during the winter we noticed a light on inside and decided someone was in there.

Well, it is gone. A week ago or so, we were walking our usual route to the office and saw the house half gone at the hands of a murderous backhoe. By our return trip that afternoon the lot was empty except for the ruts and the leftover trash.

It was very sad to me. I liked that house. It was a relic of a bygone era right there on Gushchinstraya and we could admire the construction techniques (well, I could. Sister Simmons never commented on it) the way the logs were fitted together to make a tight wall, the cross-hatch lath plastered with adobe mud and painted white on the interior walls now exposed to the weather, the ceiling joists dove-tailed into the wall logs, the blue painted gingerbread around the windows; it was classic 19th century Russia. Now instead of the house, we are treated to this classic view of a job well done. Well, it's done anyway.

More and more I am learning to value, and even admire old things. I have always liked historical stuff and Russia is full of it, but I'm just talking about old stuff like this log house. I also love roses in full bloom, old cars, old wooden housing units, old churches, old clothes, old furniture, old telephones, old kitchen tools, old farm implements, old instruments, and I even have come to admire and appreciate old people. Each of these things have character born of experience, utility in their time, and a special beauty that can only be appreciated by someone who will take the time to look beyond the surface.

Today, the Sunday School lesson was taught by a sister who is probably in her mid 50's (looking much older) with a badly misshapen back and a few missing teeth. I had not paid much attention to her other than to notice her infirmities and mentally noting that she appearing older than I thought she really was.

As I watched her sitting at the table giving the lesson, I saw someone else there. I could imagine her 30 years ago as a young girl in the bud of her life. I saw the twinkle in her eye as she said something sly and others reacted. Her wrinkles smoothed out and her chin became firm. Her hair took on a youthful luster and her shoulders were not so stooped. I saw in the Spirit the girl who was still inside the woman and I appreciated her beauty and poise. She was bright. She was witty. She was attractive both physically and spiritually. I will always see her that way now that I have seen her as she really is.

On our way out of the metro tonight as we went to the Millers who hosted this YSA Fireside, there was an old woman at the top of the stairs with a plastic cup, begging alms. I had seen her on the metro last week as she fought to keep her balance in the crowded car, unable to reach the hand-holds that were mounted well above her 4-foot high frame. Her body was bent in a question mark that caused her to see only waist high on the people around her, yet she stood her ground against gravity.

Tonight, as she stood there with her cup, I passed her, then reached into my pocket for the change I have been carrying for just such an opportunity, turned and dropped a few ruble coins into her cup. She turned her body slightly away from me, twisted her neck and head around enough to look me in the face, and made the sign of the cross in my direction. Again, as I looked into her face, and she into mine, I saw her true, youthful, bright trueness and thanked God for the vision and the blessing from this daughter of God.

Yes, I will miss the old log house, but I am going to make more of an effort to look deeper into the old people around me before they too are gone. They are worth looking into.

What a life. What a country.

(The rain is here)


Trisha said...

What a blessing. It is so true that the spirit is young and perfect. I look forward to seeing what you see. I have a great teacher.

Bob Steed said...


I love your blog. Your writing is vivid. Reading it makes me feel as if I am there serving with you.

I am so thankful for the good example you constantly are for me. I really do want to be like you when I grow up.


Shannon Simmons said...

Love you dad...and I certainly have aquired your love of old things. Thanks as always for sharing :)

Andrea S said...

So interesting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Mom/Cindy said...

I liked that house, too. It's now just a cruddy empty corner. Glad we got to enjoy it for awhile.
Love ya, Sister Cindy