Posted by: alegra22 | September 16, 2011

blessed be

My hands pull through the cold water, fingernails scraping against smooth rock and rough cement. Decomposing leaves, cigarette butts, old wrappers collect between my fingers. I rest on my belly on the bridge made of railroad sleepers that crosses over our new fish pond. I have been promising Sol we would clean it together for over two weeks now. When we first viewed our new home, the real estate agent waved at the dark waters and said, “Obviously that will need some cleaning.”

It looked empty of life. The waters thick with dirt and leaves. The stone work leading to the water fountain disappearing beneath algae. But the first day we brought over a van load of our belongings, I spotted a flash of gold in the waters.

“I don’t know how it has survived,” I said to Dan. I worried for days about the fish. I couldn’t wait to get back and rescue it.

We’ve been in our new home for over two weeks and every item on my ‘to-do’ list has consumed me in a way I didn’t expect. I’ve been tumbling through cavernous hours of taping, base coating, first coating, unpacking, cleaning, and moving through the fatigue with guilt. How can I be tired when I have this? A home. My dream. The pond has remained neglected other than sprinkled fish food that remains floating on the surface.

The damp from the wood seeps through my clothing. I shake the gunk from my hands into the red bucket I’ve been hauling back and forth to the bushes, tossing ripe pond water into the bushes, hoping it will nourish the Nikau and Puka trees. An hour ago, Sol abandoned me for the warmth of the wood stove. The winds move around the house, rustling the trees, causing the gutters to whistle, the full moon to sigh.

The water is now only inches deep. We’ve discovered that there are three fish, not one, but I can’t find any of them now. I grasp another handful of dead leaves and feel something slick in my hand. One of the goldfish flops slowly in my fingers, its eyes glossy. I drop it in the bucket of clean water I’ve set aside for my rescue. As the water drained away and I still had no fish, I started making jokes about my efforts.

If I think too much about the fish slowly suffocating on the thick water, the shock of their world being drained away from them, the wind will start whipping around inside of me, filling up spaces reserved for dreaming.

And those spaces have been spreading as I roll paint over walls. Spreading as I glance out the windows at the hills surrounding us.

Spreading as I grasped my daughter’s hand and helped her to write prayers on the walls of our new home.

“They are our secret prayers,” I tell her as we form the letters one by one. “Even when they’re all covered up with paint, we’ll know they’re there.”





And finally:

Blessed be.

Those last two words have become the rhythm of my days as I clean and clear and pray this house into a home.



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  1. A house is just a structure, that only becomes a home, when a family brings their soul into it. Beautiful writing! thanks for sharing

    • Thank you! And yes, I agree wholeheartedly. When we were still living in our old home I used to tell myself this all the time. I’d count the blessings of what was within in the home – my children, husband, the support of family and friends – instead of focusing on the things that made us feel lacking (space, a not-so-great neighborhood).

  2. I love the secret prayers and your writing as usual.

    • Thank you Deborah 🙂

  3. secret prayers – beautiful. we may be repainting a space in our house as we make room for one more child, and I am so drawn to your idea. if secret prayers show up on this baby’s and his/her big sisters’ bedroom walls, its because of you. thank you. your writing always reaches into my heart. best wishes as you make this house your home.

    • If you do it, please come back and let me know! 🙂
      My husband and I have always believed that there is a change that goes on internally whenever we make changes to our external world – we’re both really sensitive to the environment surrounding us ( a clean, beautiful home inspires a clean, beautiful mind) and somewhere along the way, we integrated the prayers into one of our many painting projects.
      Blessings on your new addition!

  4. I like that–painting secret prayers.

    • :-). I love hanging quotes around where I can see them daily as reminders.

  5. i hope i grow up to be half as good a mom as you are! if i can even come close, my kids will know they are loved.

    • Awwwwwwww! I’m sure you are!

  6. Oh I love this. So beautiful. Reading this I feel like I am there with you…you paint such a visceral picture….

    • No, no, no…it’s NOTHING like being here with me – you need to BE here with me *hint, hint*! I love you.

  7. Once again yet another metaphor that is a clear reminder to make sure you take care of things around you. You already know this though.

    As simple as cleaning out the fish pond, which looks awesome now. You have a great sense of satisfaction when this is done. You are then able to move on to the next clean up task, we never seem to run out of those.

    I’m right in the middle of cleaning my ‘stuff’ up too…except as you know, it’s going to take a little longer than the fish pond job. Love your work.

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