What is it about seeing the light that suddenly makes the tunnel so unbearable? After living without power for the past 14 months, we are presently on the brink of having electricity (5 days and counting!). To mark the occasion, we’ve spent the weekend selecting and installing light fixtures, taking bets as to for how long we will each stumble around in the dark before we realize that switching on a light is an option.
The fixtures look beautiful- illuminating, even without the benefit of electric, the promise of what lies around the next bend. But man oh man, do they ever look out of place. Below them, a floor layered in wood shavings and sheetrock dust rejects the benefit of a broom, threatening to undo whatever sweeping is accomplished with the debris of the next day’s endeavors. Beyond them, the skeleton of an unfinished wall parades its bones in a menacing dance of work yet to be done. Above, rough cut pine beams clash against a plywood ceiling, clouds of insulation puffing out along the edges. I love our new fixtures. But they remind me of the night of my junior prom when I arrived at my very first after-party to learn I was the only one who hadn’t brought a change of clothes- they are the full length gown in a room full of denim. It’s a first world problem- and after more than a year of living in the cabin you’d think this would be a welcomed right of passage.
Through a year when dreams have been realized, shattered, and reborn, this little cabin has been our sanctuary. When life was crazy, we knew we could hermit ourselves away between its walls, turn our phones off or just let the batteries run dry, and escape. If it was cold, we made a fire. When it was dark, we lit a candle. The cabin made it ok to step outside into a world of uneven footing because we knew we could return home to 300 square feet of level ground.
And now we’ve decided to make it our permanent home. Whether or not it has been the right decision, we’ve arranged to bring in electric and plumbing, to install a kitchen and a bathroom, and even a real driveway. We are transforming our little sanctuary. But what if we ruin it in the process? Construction is messy- I get it- but how do I trust that when it’s all said and done it will have been worth it? When we attempted to build our first home, we dismantled a lot of earth and stone in the path of what we believed to be our dream. It turned out to be a learning experience at best, a disaster at worst.
When life begins to feel icky (as all of us, especially those who have lived in a construction project, can relate), how do we discern between a necessary challenge en route to greater fulfillment and a sign that we’re moving in the wrong direction? In the present moment, both feel pretty similar to me. The most terrifying part of this current adventure is that the cabin was our last strong hold. Now everything is in flux. With sawdust on the floor, and the contents of my kitchen splayed out upon the living room, bedroom, and unfinished bathroom, there is nowhere to hermit myself away.
The only choice is to accept the leap we’ve taken, and fall into surrender with as much grace as we can muster. Grace. I’m the girl who in a prom dress managed to pale in comparison to denim- it’s safe to say that grace is not my thing.
Having been afraid of heights for as far back in my childhood as memory spans, I see myself as more of a cling-to-the-ledge-and-never-let-your-feet-leave-the-ground kind of girl.
I have no answers for tomorrow, but for tonight, here is what has settled my soul: We ate by candlelight, forgoing the temptation of our battery-powered lamps. We listened to music. Read. Wrote. Before bed, I stepped outside, gazed up at the sky, felt the cool fall air against my face and in my lungs, and was blanketed in the silence. Now, I am the only one awake. Time is marked by the deep inhales and exhales of my husband and my dogs as they breath themselves through sleep, and the clicking and pausing rhythm of my keyboard.
For a brief moment, before my racing mind resumes its diatribe, there is no right or wrong choice, no black or white future governed by the blind decisions of the here and now. There is only the present reminder that what I need to feel whole is not bound together by boards and windows. It is (thankfully!) beyond that which I have the power to create or destroy. It is, like the outlets that sit upon my walls in silent promise, a channel to connect with or abandon. Only (also thankfully!) this channel is not dependent upon the power company showing up next week to run their lines. It is a sanctuary beyond the walls of our little cabin.