We lived 4 places during the construction of our Net Zero hacienda. To distinguish among them, Amy calls the new place our Forever House. Hmmm. Always makes me wonder: is it forever like this-is-the-last-place-we’ll-ever-live kind of forever? I suppose some would think it morbid to acknowledge this as the site of our last supper, our final shuffle to the poophole, the last experience of pickle-making and lovemaking, the curtain call on a garden of Newtown Pippin and Cherokee Purple. It sounds final for sure. On the myrtle wood counter they’ll most likely set out casseroles as friends gather after our memorials. Knowing how they love their games, we’re sure the children will play 2 Truths & A Lie about us. They will prepare to carry on…without us. I’m thinking that’s the closest we get to forever.
Or is it? Now wait: just because we are Reverends and our names are associated with the Jesus thing and all, don’t make assumptions. We don’t look to that kind of heavenbound eternity. As in a place we go after we die. For us, when it’s over in this House of Earth, it’s over. Done. Kaput. No more chances. Our experiences and our reading of Scripture, suggest a deep earthbound eternal life: these are eternities of a particular sunrise or an intimate touching of skin and soul that seem never-ending at the time. And are. These are eternities of relationship that persevere far beyond death in the DNA we send along in our offspring, the community we build in our neighborhood organizations that go on without us and the audacities of history we make. These are eternities of the story they will tell about what made us laugh till we cried and what pissed us off, the deep griefs that overcame us and the moments of wonder that made us wet our pants and shut our mouths. These legends will live on forever, long after the tellers remember about whom they were told.
And there’s at least another dimension. This is a Forever House, not just our forever house. For us to turn this thing around, I mean our little experiment in the cherishment of Earth, buildings must be imagined, drawn, built and finished with permanence in mind, like the pyramids kind of forever. We hope our Passive House is a harbinger of permanence in a disposable world. A foot of insulation under a cement slab and 13-inch-R-56 walls demonstrate permanence. Rust proof siding and roof plead permanence. Painting with recycled paint and investing in kitchen counters of reclaimed glass gives momentum to an emergent culture for the long haul. A forever house makes more energy than it uses. The energy source is the sun, a source for eternity compared to the deposits of the black stuff beneath us. To have any chance of preserving the integrity of humanity and planet, we must build like this. We must etch our names in that foundation.
Of course our little time is an almost undetectable blip on the screen of forever. We deconstructed the 1937 rental that stood here before us. We saved what we could. Old growth rafters found new purpose in 10-inch windowsills, bookshelves, bathroom vanities. Our forebearers stuffed the morning paper in a wall for us to find. Maybe this was their best chance at eternity. That paper was delivered to this address on Epiphany, January 6, 1943, a moment not unlike our own, teetering on the edge of a new global awakening. When the paper was delivered, Anne Frank was in hiding, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was soon to be arrested & sent to the camps. The next day, January 7, 1943, Sadako Sasaki, a child of Hiroshima, was born. Her legend of peace cranes gives wings to any who seek courage to build a society of humanity worthy of this Holy moment. We uncovered this story crumpled between old studs, and in the find, received the scroll on which to write peace, permanence and equity for our time. Erin painted the peace pole and gave it to her Mother on Christmas. We planted it at the gate of our Forever House that day. The careful imagination of the artist has painted us into the unimaginable: Que la paz prevalenza en la tierra! Thanks Amy. Thanks Erin. We are learning what forever means.