Monday, September 7, 2015

September 7, 2015 - The Hearth is the Home

In the 1760s, this was a fireplace in a tavern.  The tavern was on one half of the building, and Captain Samuel Goodwin and his family lived on the other half.  Upstairs was the Pownalborough Courthouse, the only pre-revolutionary courthouse still standing in Maine (Town of Dresden).  Many famous historic people came here, including John Adams (the 2nd president of the U.S.) and Benedict Arnold.  It’s a historic landmark now, but many of the original implements, some of the clothing, and even 200+ year-old graffiti can still be found here.

A huge walk-in hearth at the old Pownalborough Courthouse.

I love all the history in Maine.  I took many pictures of this building, but you’ll notice that what attracted my eye the most was the hearth.  There were several huge hearths throughout the building, both upstairs and down.  I loved this one the most because it’s the perfect center of a home.  It’s where people came to get warm in the terrible Maine winter.  It meant life and death in the bad weather.  It stood for comfort and safety and peace.  It’s where the meals were cooked that sustained the family and those who frequented the tavern.  It’s the lifeblood of the house.

Baked bread, steamed puddings, thick stews, and sizzling meats were all cooked here.  People were born and died here.  People--people just like you and I--lived their lives, loved and hated, schemed and prayed, lost and won at the game of life.  These aren’t just historical people.  These were real folks, and it’s important to remember that at every step in history, real lives are at stake, real lives are in the balance.  We tend to think of it all as a historic romance, but the struggle to live and die was very real and no less poignant than it is today.

Every generation seems to think that its generation is the most advanced, the most important, the most relevant, but the fact is that every generation is vital.  Remembering this for the past but also for the future--especially for the future--can make a big difference in the way our world ultimately plays itself out.  When you gather around your modern-day hearth, while your life might not seem “vital” or of tremendous significance, it is.  It’s extremely important.  You are life.  You are the stuff that the future is made of.  You are brilliantly necessary, so have a care that you behave in a manner which displays your full knowledge of that fact.

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