In the Spirit of the House

We are working on our house, liberating wood long hidden by layers of paint. We have discovered some things along the way. We found a closet I didn’t know existed. We have found evidence of wainscoting in the dining room. It is a labor and money intensive project. I have a friend who is leading me through the work and doing much of the work himself. I don’t recall exactly what it was we were discussing one day, but as we explored various ways to address the issue, he made the comment that we should do what is “in the spirit of the house.” His statement stayed with me. What good is it to try to make something look other than what it wants to look like?

It wasn’t that many generations ago that what a man did for work was what his father did. Women stayed home. That’s the way it was, and no one asked anyone else what they “wanted to do”. Now a days people search their souls looking to identify what it is that fulfills them. We try to align our passion with a profession. I like to think this is a step in the right direction – to do what it is truly in you to do. I also know that searching has kept some people poor, or poorer than they would like to be. Sometimes one’s passion doesn’t yield much by way of a pay check.

It was late in the afternoon one day and the sun was coming in waves through the window. I was all alone. “Too bad,” I thought to myself. “I wish someone were here to experience the beauty of this moment.” I was in a church and it was quiet. The only light was what was streaming in through the windows – quivering colors and subtle hues dancing on the walls and in the air. What is there about such a space, I wondered. And, in truth, I was glad to be alone, to have no distraction.

I know that “church” is increasingly out of vogue. I also know how expensive these expansive spaces are to maintain; and they are empty most of the time. But honestly, I found my senses were all being touched – the quiet, the taste of the air, the fragrance of prayer seemed to permeate the place. Actually, I have no idea what prayer smells like; but the aroma is both ancient and hopeful. Such a place and such a moment made me feel more vulnerable, more yielded to life. I wonder … if more people could sit alone in a sunlight-filled sanctuary, would more of us find that passion we are looking for? Could we more quickly and accurately identify what it is that is in us to do?

That line about the “spirit of the house” has informed several of my decisions since first I heard it. The tendency might be to take the easier or cheaper way out. I’m not looking to spend money unnecessarily or foolishly; neither do I want to do less than what is required. What is it that this house is calling forth? The same question could be asked of your soul.

Do what it is that is truly in you to do. You – and everyone around you – will be the better for it.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.