The first time I visited the farm where I now live I had no idea what was along the gravel road that seems to have no end. The houses. The stories. The families that once were. The families that still are. The hopes and dreams of many who have traveled this same road. Some have stayed. Some have left. But the lessons they learned remain planted in them like an immense interstate of knowledge and wisdom.
Along the way, we passed beautiful fields filled with sleeping life. They’re dreaming of spring planting and the resulting growing season even as a blanket of snow tucks them in as they snuggle up for the winter. Knowing, somehow, that their time will come again, as it always has. As it always will. The cycle of life that God himself created and put into place. Who can argue with that?
The sky seems so much larger uninterrupted by buildings competing for space. It spreads out that first day like a welcoming beacon, displaying its fluffiest clouds and bluest blue. Clear and crisp, it has on its Sunday best even though it’s only a Thursday.
The house stands squarely in place as it has for more than a century. This structure has witnessed much of history. A time when horses were used to plow the fields. When children attended country school. The era of Model T Fords and barn dances. As the outside world changed, this house stood firm, as did the families that lived here. Especially the family into which I recently married.
As I toured the house for the first time, a sense of peace settled on me like a warm blanket in cold temperatures. Of course it was obvious that a bachelor lived here. But there was also a sense of community, of family, of faith, of life. This house has witnessed families growing like the nearby corn and soybean fields. It has seen them grow up, move away and grow families of their own.
It has seen people come here for fellowship, for friendship, for Bible study, for prayer, for healing. It has seen happy times and times of great sadness. It has witnessed faith lived out day by day as straight and true as corn planted in precision lines. As with most lives, there have been bumps and sharp corners and unexpected turns. And paths that none of us would choose.
But through it all, the Lord has been here in this house because of the people who have lived here and their abiding faith.
One thing that surprised me the first time I met this house is the collection of gravy boats filling the dining room shelves. Never having owned even one gravy boat, I couldn’t imagine an entire collection. What’s the purpose? I clumsily, at best, make gravy once a year at Thanksgiving time.
Even as I fell in love with Melvin and knew I’d be moving out here after our wedding, the gravy boats and their fate remained in the back of my mind. How many people live in a house filled with gravy boats?
Recently, I took them all down off their high shelves. I washed them and looked them over for the first time. I must admit, they have grown on me. There’s a simple beauty to each one. No two are alike. Mel’s first wife, Janice, slowly collected them over the years. I can imagine her finding them in little out-of-the way shops and thrift stores. Each one a long-discarded gem looking for a home.
As I placed them back on their shelves, I arranged them according to color. I also decided which ones seemed like they belonged together. It wasn’t hard to do. Each one seemed to fit well with at least one or two others.
Maybe they once belonged to a set of dishes. Or maybe they were created solely as a one-of-a-kind piece. I’m convinced that at some time in their life, each gravy boat did hold gravy for a family, as well as their family stories shared around the supper table.
Are we so different?
God created each one of us uniquely, but he also created us to be together in friendship, in fellowship, in faith, and in family. What if like the gravy boats, we took ourselves off our high shelves and really looked at our lives and the lives of others? What if we truly opened up our homes for the gathering together of God’s people? What if we slowed down the hectic pace of our lives and took time to appreciate one another? What if instead of barely getting by, we enjoyed a faith-filled life, which is better than even the tastiest gravy.
It’s an easy road to take. All we have to do is to ask the Lord to put us on the right path, which may just be a gravel road that leads to house of gravy boats.