I was stopped in front of a house the other day because of construction. As I looked around, I noticed an old man, with a long beard, sitting on his front porch reading. He didn’t look up, didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that the road in front of his house was completely torn up and that rows of cars were stopped …that dust and dirt were being constantly kicked up and were wafting in waves onto his home (and onto him as well, I guess!). As I looked more carefully, I noticed a little tree growing out of the roof on top of his porch.
When I got home, I was telling Jack about it and he said, “Oh, I know which house you are talking about.”…I said, “You do?! You know the house with the tree growing out of the roof?” No, but he knew who the man was, knew that he was a retired mill worker and that he sat on his porch most days reading. Then he asked me if I would like him to get a photograph of the man and his porch. I certainly did, if the man didn’t mind…which he didn’t.
He didn’t mind having his photograph taken, and when Jack asked him if he was aware that a tree was growing on his porch roof, he said that yes he was…wasn’t quite sure how long it had been growing though. Jack said that this man was completely comfortable, and very pleasant to talk with…didn’t say once, “Oh, I know. I really should pull it out (or cut it down) and I haven’t shaved in a long time, I am sorry that I look a little straggly for the picture (or you cannot take my picture, I look awful today). Nope, the man did not apologize for one thing about his life to this stranger who asked to photograph him.
I love everything about this…it seems in such contrast to my life. I find myself, so often, when people are coming over, running around cleaning, or covering up the defects, fixing, sprucing up (both myself and the house), which is not a bad thing, but when I find that I am apologizing for my appearance, or for a little animal hair, or trying to cover up what I think is not perfect, then I am not at peace.
I will probably never let a tree grow on top of my house, but if I can get to the point in life where I can accept myself, my aging body, my not perfect house, the towels with a couple of holes in them, the rip in the limoleum, the bit of rust on the kitchen sink, the unique way that the Divine is expressing through me which may not always meet everyone’s standards, then I think it will be a sign of grow in me, and not decay.
At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time. ~Friedrich Nietzsche