Little house on the prairie
Along the road we dropped into a hardware store for something we almost forgot–bathroom hooks to hang the towels on.
We had earlier loaded into the car two doormats, a rice cooker, an electric stove and a painting.
After buying the hooks, we resumed our trip, confident that we had all that we needed.
In half an hour we would arrive at our destination, a small house by a grassland.
The wife and I had acquired it on a lark.
A friend, a real estate broker, had sold it to us at a cut-rate price because of its smallness and location and because of its distance from the city.
The distance attracted us.
It meant a drive of a little less than an hour, and, of course, retirees like ourselves found the price easy to manage.
Besides, we took its diminutive size as a challenge to our creativity.
We had checked the Internet for small homes and how their owners turned them into fascinating residences.
It seems that the child in us wants a greater leeway in our lives.
Having worked our fingers to the bone, having all the while sought to control our space and time, we seem to revert to an earlier innocence, in which these categories do not matter as much, in which the time and space have regressed into just ourselves.
Now we need no more than a small house, whose floor we can cover with just a few steps, in which we can do our tasks with just a few movements– a small calyx, a size just enough to support the flowering imagination.
In a discourse narrated by Mark in his Gospel, Jesus said: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna where ‘the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’”
Employing exaggeration, Jesus warns those who tempt others to sin of the consequences.
But let me view his message through a different prism.
I take it as a call to downsize, as a way of approaching God, by lopping off the non-essentials, which in the course of time become the extensions of our hands, feet and eyes.
We desire to expand our territory and increase our power, and to enjoy the world’s beauty to the hilt, a drive which often causes us and others to sin.
Perhaps with this small house the wife and I have found a way to cut off the virtual extensions of our feet, hands and eyes, so that, finally, in the words of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, we can let ourselves be guided by the Lord like a little child.
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