Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Inside the North Room

The following is an excerpt from The Hammer.


I “wrote” this last night; I’m putting it on paper now. I wasn’t sleeping; at least, I don’t think I was. I had been asleep and wasn’t awake enough to open my eyes or to wonder what time it was. I’m sure it wasn’t a dream because there were no pictures, still or moving. Dreams, however real at the time, give themselves away as dreams because of the erratic aberrations from reality that does not stand up in the daylight. There were none of those. I was thinking in words of a place. The thinking did not seem to have a starting place as if I had been awake for a while and then decided to think.

The place is a room, the North Room, in a farmhouse in Nebraska. It has always been a place of awe for me, and I do not think I am easily awed. There are places that have been constructed to cause awe or worship or the sense of the numinous. St. Paul’s Cathedral causes awe in me for God in an indirect way. I am first awed at the brilliance of Christopher Wren and secondarily for the God who made Christopher Wren. It is the same with the Daibutsu in Kamakura. Writing doesn’t reach me, at least in terms of awe, whether it is of Shardik or Aslan or the Rings of Power or the appearance of Pan in the Wind in Willows. The North Room does.

The North Room, I think, is a living room, although living does not take place there. The living is in the kitchen and dining rooms. In my memory it was always closed off like a holy place. It was cool in the summer (probably cold in the winter). I do not recall in these fifty years the lights being on in the North Room, kerosene lamps or electric lights. It was always pleasantly dark; dark in a nice, cool, comfortable way. For me it would be sacrilege to turn on the lights.

Over eighty years ago when my aunt and mother were born in the house there was no North Room. As the farm prospered and the family got bigger, the house was made into a proper house with other rooms, including the North Room and a verandah on the east overlooking a lovely, large front yard with a front gate opening on to a section road. All of these seem holy, none of them were used.

In my childhood we played together there, my brothers, my cousins and I. It was a wonderful place to play. It never occurred to us to be rowdy or wild in the North Room.

The furniture I do not recall, other than the bookcase; and of the books, B.M. Bower’s The Flying U Ranch and Chip of the Flying U, which has to prove the place really was not holy in a God-directed way.

Man makes churches, shrines and temples to cause people to worship because of the place. All of these will end like Ozymandias: “Nothing beside remains.” Other places like the North Room, which seem to be sacred although not consecrated, will end in decay even faster.

“This is what the Lord says: Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1, 2)

It has been close to seven years since I wrote these sentences. It has been four years since the house has been lived in. Raccoons have attacked it. It is all decaying fast. The living things, the trees and bushes, are taking over. One of these years the house, the North Room and all of the trees will be deliberately removed, and that portion of the Southeast quarter of Section 33 of Platte County, Neb., will be cornfields.

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