Prayers at Maple Tree Medows

Prayers at Maple Tree Medows
Three Rivers, MI

Sunday, November 28, 2010

St. Joseph's Barn

I visited St. Joseph's Barn at The Hermitage on Dutchsettlement Road, Three Rivers, on Thursday, November 11. David Wenger, one of the directors there along with his wife, Naomi, told me the story of St. Joseph's barn. You will see how I put that story "into the barn's mouth" below.

St. Joseph’s Barn.
My Story.

It is remembered that I was raised in 1898.
But the people who live here now don’t know who made me.

Of course, I have lived here longer than any human.
Only the trees know.
The earth.

But as it is with us barns,
I stand on evidence
of stones laid with care as foundation,
old stall space for cows,
and beams hewn thick and strong,
straight for these one hundred and more years.

Owners in the 70’s lived by me in a double wide
and thought of making me their home.
But it was Gene and Mary Herr in the 80's who had
to make me
“space for God.”

Named after the county
and the carpenter father of Jesus, it took
a carpenter artist to remake me
from the inside out.

My outside gaps where the wind crept in
were sealed
and Jim Schwartz (Centreville)
re-arranged my inner space
while leaving beams and logs, ladders to the hayloft,
as structure.

First three rooms,
then a bath,
a space to gather,
and a two level apartment
hung for long term
Four more rooms,
a bath,
a chapel,

and centering my soul
a spiral stairway
to the kitchen

But windows will whisper:
I was shaped as much
by silence and prayer
and faith for the finances
as boards and beams.

The Hermitage,
this land and space
around within
me, the barn,
shelters pastors, leaders,
seekers, finders
in a barn made holy by silence seeking God.

My skin has been torn away,
the old boards salvaged as they came down last summer.
I don’t look the part of a centennial barn, but my insides cannot lie.

When I look ahead,
I see fewer cars coming, with the end of gas
and the earth turned back to growing.
Food, God’s love
made visible, now
fills extra space at The Hermitage
around silence.

In another hundred
years, who knows?
Many farmers, dwellers in silence, soul
and soil may share this place.

I will hold the old stories for them
if they look,
and listen.

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