Last month I sat on the side of a country road with Luke, while he worked on a painting of an old barn for an art competition he had entered. I did it because I love him. And, even though it was 58°, windy, and threatening rain, I did it because I want to encourage him in his passion. So, despite the cold toes, the growing need for the bathroom, and the longing for a warm cup of Earl Grey, I stayed.
I see that for Luke to grow in his skill as an artist, he needs to learn to take his time, to observe, to appreciate the details. If he rushes, he might miss something. Art trains him to slow down.
I’m no artist, but I have other hobbies or disciplines that cause me to slow up. Breathe deeply. Observe. That’s why I like journaling the old fashioned way – in the quiet of the morning when the rest of the house is still, I take a leather bound book, pen in hand, and curl up on the couch. I take time to reflect when I journal. It’s a deliberate act encompassing protected time. And the words only flow as fast as my pen scratches out the letters.
An old weathered barn stands sentinel over the walking path in our neighborhood. The pavement snakes its way around the foundation, infringing on what was once a bustling farmyard.
I’ve often wondered what stories lay within the framework of those timbers and broken pane windows.
Have children ever climbed into the hayloft to read, or young lovers to hide? Did Mr. Farmer seek the earthy haven of the barn in an effort to dodge a quarrel with Mrs. Farmer? How long have the rusty plow and old wagon stood still, untouched and unproductive? Does the barn mind that now, instead of squawking geese and chickens scratching in the dust, yippy designer dogs and sleek runners pass by and hardly notice its presence?
I like this big ole’ barn. I like how it squares off with the modern road in front of it, unapologetically aged and grand. I like its steep peaked roof and rust-colored hinges. In many ways it dwarfs the newly built houses around it. It’s a symbol of another time, when vehicles and people and days moved more slowly. It reminds me to breathe deep, observe the ordinary, respect the old ways, seasoned with wisdom and age.
Most things in this world change rather quickly. It’s just the nature of living in the 21st century. But today, I see the value in staying put, squaring up, and standing with confidence… in the face of necessary changes.
Luke and this barn have taught me that.