Monday, April 28, 2014

Death and Rebirth

In an earlier post I described how I changed the doors in our house. I described the experience technically. Home renovations are new to Yulia and me, so the technical experience we are gaining is important to us. However, our experience of home repair and life at our new house in general is not only technical, but deeply emotional as well.

For example, I described how I prayed that a wooden beam that I was sawing through wasn't load bearing. What is latent in that comment is how religious the experience was to me. Let me explain.

To install the new doors I had to bore through old clay walls and ungracefully tear out an old door frame using brute force.  The process was as destructive as it was creative. The door and frame were so solidly constructed and the materials were of such high quality that I felt sad doing it. There were, of course, logical reasons for our doing so. The frame was crooked and the door was on its last legs. But the care put into making them and the quality of materials was evident.

The door was oak. We surmise it was probably sourced from the forest near our village. The forest is nearly all oak and locals still source from it today. The frame was tough to take out too. It was clear that the builders of the house meant for it to last. Additionally, I found an old newspaper along with some old rags stuffed in between the door frame and wall. The newspaper was from the early 1960s. It was crumpled and hardly readable, but I could make out a headline about American aggression in Cuba. It had been about fifty years since anybody had seen that newspaper.

I saw the previous residents' care and energy all throughout that door and frame. That is why I found myself praying as I was sawing through a wooden beam. I realized I was taking apart their work and began to feel as if I were trespassing on something sacred. In my mind I apologized as I worked. I thanked the original builders for the house that Yulia and I now live in. I assured them this wasn't only destruction, but creation as well as I installed a new door and frame. Though the work was demanding and physical it was deeply meditative as well. I had reverence for what I was destroying, but realized that its time had come to go so that something new could take its place.

Similarly, Yulia and I  had to say bye to something we built last year when we first moved in. We took down the outdoor shower (we call it a shower, but it is really a screened off bathing area) that we described building in a previous post.

As these pictures show, it was definitely time to take down the old shower. It started out looking like this:

By early spring it looked like this:

"Farewell, Aquarius, and we thank you."
Saying bye to our old shower made me think of the scene from Apollo 13 in which the crew has to part with the Lunar Excursion Module.

Although it served them so well, the crew of Apollo 13 had to cut their lifeboat spacecraft loose into space before reentry into Earth's atmosphere. It realize it's a corny analogy, but this outdoor shower served us well too. It's no spaceship (in fact, we made it out of scrap materials), but we were fond of it. It was one of the first marks we made upon arrival at our new home.

Having an outdoor shower helped us learn that it's possible to bathe outside year round. We are now entering the fourth season in which we've been washing outside. It's completely possible, and no, Yulia and I did not get walrus blood transfusions before moving here!

We also learned that we should probably build something with more permanent walls and a roof. This is what we decided on building:

It's a nifty little structure. When we get around to changing our roof and lacquering the walls of our house we are planning on using those green shingles and that hue of reddish-orange for the walls.

What do you all think of my non-Easter related reflections on death and rebirth? Have you ever had similar thoughts or experiences? Have you ever felt reverence for an inanimate object? What do you think is the best way to go about parting with a thing you care about deeply?

1 comment:

  1. Excellent job, I really like the little barn look. Well done.