Status Update: Creating Sanctuary from the Ground Up

May 26, 2012

As David Bohm says, there is no safety in things.  But be this as it may, our lives are largely even primarily based on creating relative safety by way of the material.  To this end we consume vitamins, safety test cars and maintain the integrity of our homes.  And it is within this last instance, our homes, that our primary source of safety lies.

Shelter is an indisputable necessity in this sometimes inhospitable world and the loss of shelter whether through natural disaster, temporary evacuation or other circumstance is always a traumatic event.  Most of us here in the US have never faced this catastrophe and for most of my life I have been part of this fortunate demographic.  I live in the Wyoming Valley however, the site of what Richard Nixon called the worst natural disaster in American history - the flood of 1972.

Across Pennsylvania, more than 68,000 homes and 3,000 businesses were destroyed, leaving over 220,000 people homeless and a path of destruction that would be estimated at $14 billion dollars today. In our county alone more than 25,000 homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed, and the devastation was estimated to be $1 billion in the economy of the day.  The valley as we knew it was gone and rebuilding was a long heartbreaking process.

Thankfully I did not live in the flood zone in 1972 but I have lived in it through the series of evacuation which have occurred since.  Our dyke has held but many unprotected communities were inundated.  And while we were fortunate enough not to sustain damage, the last 3 day evacuation of our family and 120,000 residents of Wyoming Valley in September of 2011 was enough for me.  

West Pittston PA September 2011
Hence my six month search for a new home out of the flood plain which ended this April with the purchase of a great old fixer upper on the near top of a mountain in a small town overlooking our valley.

The house was everything we were looking for - eight rooms, hardwood floors, original woodwork, big kitchen, great staircase, nice yard - but it was also in a sorry state.  The floors were stained and the woodwork was coated in paint. The wiring was antiquated, the plumbing blocked.  The garage was (and still is) semi-collapsing but the house itself is solid.

Divided into two rental units for many years, things were done to this once beautiful home that defy explanation.  Setting it right is an undertaking that is consuming most of time, putting me 'behind' here in this blog for the first time since its inception.  This update is my way of explaining.

Extensive remodeling is harder, at 55, than is was just a few years ago.  And the immersion in a world of physicality is challenging as well.  

Prior to this undertaking, a fair amount of my free time was centered on the metaphysical.  Life was light and airy and relatively happy.  Now it is tied to planning and building.  And there is nothing more 3D than hanging sheetrock or knocking out old plaster or framing a wall.

I will be happy when the work is finished.  When we are moved and settled.  When I can once again meditate at night or read instead of dozing off, exhausted.  Still I believe in what I'm creating now.  I believe in creating a safe place for my family.  I believe in restoration and the balancing act of making things right.

There is, of course, no real safety in it, no point where it cannot be torn apart.  But physical survival is part and parcel of what we have been charged with here.  It is the platform from which we operate and the base that we retreat to when the outside world is too much to take.

See previous post for the before pics.  Check back for the afters!


Please share your thoughts!