HENSLEY: Abandoned things

Published 1:16 pm Friday, June 19, 2020

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By Judith Hensley
Contributing columnist

I recently discovered a beautiful web page on Facebook devoted to abandoned houses and barns. Many of the photographs are stunning. They have a peculiar impact on my curiosity.

I often note abandoned houses as I drive. Sometimes I take count of them and am amazed that in a world with so many people in need and so many homeless people about, there are so many deserted dwellings that appear perfectly livable.

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I’ve had the thought, “If I had property with an extra house or beautiful barn, I’d rather have someone living in it, taking care of it rent free if they’d keep it up than to let it fall apart.” It is  tragic to realize they are going to fall apart without anyone to care for them.

When people move out of a house, it’s almost as if the spirit of the house vanishes and it soon falls into disrepair much faster than it would if it was inhabited by people.

I can’t help thinking about WHO lived in the house. HOW LONG was it occupied and WHEN did it become empty? I wonder WHAT happened to make the people it belonged to leave it behind. Did they die or have to relocate in order to find a job? Were they sick and had to move in with children for care? I wonder WHERE the family has gone and where they came from in the first place. WHY leave a lovely home behind with no one to attend it?

By the time a person could answer the typical who, what, when, where, why, and how questions about a house, they could certainly have the skeleton of a novel or a short story.

In most small towns these days, there are abandoned stores that used to thrive, abandoned businesses recently that couldn’t make it with the COVID-19 shut down, and empty places that will never be useful again. I still remember many small towns in our region that were flourishing and busy when I was a child. It is very discouraging to see so many places with such great potential sitting empty.

Does anyone else ask themselves these same questions about abandoned things? I’m confident they do. We are all creatures of curiosity and imagination.

Abandoned cars, trucks, school buses, and big rigs also baffle me. There is so much history in an old vehicle. If it doesn’t work any more or isn’t needed, why not sell it for parts of scrap metal? Why leave a car to rust away on a riverbank, a back yard, or in a whole property full of junked vehicles? It is the owner’s choice, but it has always been a mystery to me. I’ve also seen abandoned boats left to rot on the riverbank or near the ocean.

Yet, all these are only things. They have no life of their own, no soul.

There are times that human beings feel abandoned. Age limits a person’s ability to be as active and mobile as they were when they were young and vibrant, full of life. I think of the same questions about people and wonder what their story is – who, what, when, where, why?

According to the Bible, we are never abandoned by God, even when we grow old, and even when our life seems to be falling apart. Even if the world has abandoned us or we feel useless, there is nothing that will cause God to abandon anyone who has truly put their trust in Him. Not tribulation, or distress, not persecution, or famine, and not nakedness, peril, or sword. (Romans 8)

As much beauty as I see in abandoned things, I never want to become one.