The granddaughter of a dairy farmer, I was reared near the historic town of Waterford, and grew up appreciating my cultural heritage. The family loved corn roasts and square dances; I have to admit, the sound of a polka still gets my foot tapping! But it wasn’t until my husband and I moved to Southern California, and then returned to NW Pennsylvania that I was able to see how special this area really is. However, when it was time to return to Erie, one could understand why I didn’t want to leave the sunny beaches and easy (1980’s) lifestyle. It was quite an adjustment for our family. All three kids were now in school and we were looking for our forever home. My husband and I had made the decision for me to continue my career as a stay-at-home Mom, by the way, one of the best decisions we ever made. I jumped into helping out at the kid’s schools and became involved in our church.
One of the organizations available to me was the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). After signing up and attending a meeting, they assigned me the role of chaplain. At the teacher appreciation luncheon, I gave a devotional that I hoped would encourage the faculty as they enjoyed the summer respite. It was about Frank Lloyd Wright as a young boy, and goes something like this.
Frank was visiting an uncle’s farm one cold, Wisconsin winter. In the morning, after a fresh snow fall, he followed the elder uncle across a broad pasture toward the barn. When stopping at the gate the uncle turned back and looked at their tracks in the snow. Pointing out his own tracks, which etched a straight line from gate to gate, he spoke to Frank. “Look how my steps follow a direct route from the other end of the pasture to here”, he said proudly. “But yours”, he scolded, “zig zag from the old apple tree to the frozen berry bush to the broken fence post. You were all over the pasture! Do you see how much time you wasted coming across the snow?” Out loud, the boy replied, “Yes Uncle” but inwardly, Frank Lloyd Wright determined never to miss most things in life…. as his uncle had.
Wright went on to be a highly sought-after architect from 1893 – 1959. One of his designs, Graycliff House sits on the cliffs of Lake Erie near Buffalo. As I mentioned in A Preacher and a Plague part 2, he was famous for designing rooms that are in harmony with each other. For him, a door was not just a door, it functioned as more than a way to get from one room to the next. He designed each doorway to give a hint, a foretaste of what was in the next space. There is symmetry to his design that involves the entire structure. He also situated his buildings so they were in harmony with their natural surroundings. Wright had learned an important lesson from his uncle which he incorporated into architecture. Which is, there is more to life than just getting from gate to gate.
“Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk and live in Your truth; direct and unite my heart to reverence and honor Your name” (Psalm 86:11).
And if we didn’t know it before, haven’t we learned in 2020, life rarely takes the most linear path?