Unmovable Hooks


I am living temporarily in an old farm house. The house is 150 years old and though everything works pretty well, it is still 150 years old — no amount of make up can hide. At night, because the house is heated by oil, you hear noises coming out of the metal plates on the floor – and there is no pattern, no logic, and no apparent rhythm to the cacophony of sounds.

The house sits behind a cluster of newer homes, not on the street, but back about one-tenth of a mile, as you follow a gravel road. The GPS lady can never find us. It has an old basement that looks like a dungeon and a red barn that used to house animals. The barn may be as old as the house, I am not sure, but it has the character of a well-built structure that might survive World War III. With enough hard work and artistry, it could be converted into a quaint little house where the occupants might live happily hereafter.

Down to the east there is a farm, which is part of the property. It is an 8-acre parcel of land, I am told. A beautiful descending field takes you to the other, where a dog is always barking and I am told that people go hunting for deer and walking on Sunday afternoons when the weather is nice. I can’t wait to go there some time in the future, but I will stay away from the dog’s path.

Though the house is small and we are not even totally moved in yet — our stuff is not coming until 1/25; Though we have no garage and the sink in the bathroom has only one basin, we love the element of simplicity our lives gained since we moved there. We love the quietness and the fact that our neighbors are far enough they will not complain about our two dogs. We love the beautiful mornings when the sun comes up against the fields. And we love not having to pay mortgage, most of all (it will be better once our house in Ohio is sold!).

But by far the most peculiar thing about this house is none of the things I mentioned. It is rather the unusual number of hooks and hanging gadgets of all sorts and ages I have found around the house. There are original metal hooks painted over multiple times in years past. There are some shiny new metal strips, old nails of all sizes and shapes, hung at different heights over walls, doors, on the sides of cabinets and the showers.

This interesting phenomenon has made me ask the question: Why do we have so many of these objects in our homes? Obviously, to hang things. We hang pictures, calendars, dish towers, coats, hats, charts, boards, bags, belts, etc. But why do we hang thing? I guess we do it because we love to hang things because the stuff we hang gives us a sense of permanence in a place. They help us build a history, make memories, leave a trace. The proximity to things give us more of a sense of home, I guess.

The things we hang say a lot about the kind of person we are. Whose picture goes on the wall of the living room? What type of calendar — Norman Rockwell paintings or Hustler magazine’s? Clean or dirty towels? Expensive or cheap china? Diplomas or Birth certificates?

But we also hang things to try to make our lives easy. If I hang my coat by the door, I don’t have to look for it deep within the house if I have to go somewhere in a hurry. We are too busy to waste even a couple of minutes looking for something that is not obviously in front of us, so we transform what could be a beautiful, plain, empty wall into a utilitarian space always at my service.

But life is so transitory and things pass away. No amount of hanging will prevent you from having to part with things. And your organizational scheme will some day fail you. We have all experienced the pain associated with a relocation and the feeling of empty walls that had for long been occupied with stuff. The pristine, bright paint in the space where the picture once was serves as a vivid reminder of how new things used to be.

I can’t help but think that the only secure place to “hang” things is the wall around your heart. If you have hooks there, they will remain with you no matter how far you go. So I encourage you to cultivate your heart with wisdom and love. Wisdom is the application of solid principles to daily living. The Book of Proverbs says that a healthy reverence for God is the beginning of wisdom. I couldn’t agree more. And love is the irresistible force to accept even when logic pushes you the other way. “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

Wisdom and love will never need to be unhooked from your soul. Happy travels.

Ivanildo C. Trindade

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