Old people and old barns have a lot in common. They’ve certainly both seen their better days. Sometime in the distant past, they were brand new and shiny and strong. At some point in the past, they were the newcomers. But then time marched on, as it always does, and they got old.
First the paint chipped a bit. Then it tore off in sheets. A fresh coat of paint always helped, but it was never as nice as the first coat, and eventually it chipped as well. Some hinges became rusty and started to squeak. Oil helped a bit, but eventually the hinges got very old and rusty and bent. Some parts were just put out of commission, just too old to use or fix. Other parts turned up missing, and where they went is anyone’s guess. Sometimes gaping holes appeared in a wall or in someone’s memory (mirror images of the same thing).
|The comfort and surety of age.|
Yes, they grew old. All things must do so, but old barns and old people have other things in common that make them unique and special. For example, they have a presence and style that newer equipment simply doesn’t have. It’s easy to drive by a brand new barn and comment on how lovely it is. But we can’t drive by an old barn for long without stopping at some point. We have to stop and we have to investigate it.
Because it doesn’t look like the newer barns. It has a different and nostalgic shape. It’s handmade, piece by piece, just like an old person. Its uses and functions are often different from new barns, and that makes them interesting. How did people live back then? How did they survive? How did they manage to weather all the terrible storms?
The old person, like the old barn, has character and strength and hidden knowledge of days gone by. The old person knows a few tricks that the younger person has not yet even considered. The old person, like the old barn, has character. He is not concerned with outward appearances or sleight of hand or bells and whistles. He stands strong in the face of onslaught knowing that “this, too, shall pass,” because he has lived through it many times before. He knows how to handle adversity. He knows that it’s okay to have a few holes and rusty hinges and peeled paint because it’s what's inside that counts.
The old barn stands on the horizon, functioning now in a very different way than when it was younger. When we think of country and family and “days gone by,” it’s not a new barn we picture but an old one. When we think of a simpler time of honesty and integrity, it’s not the young person we think of but the old. Young people are certainly capable of honesty and integrity, but it’s age that gives one the wisdom to properly wield that honesty and integrity. It’s age that proves the promise.
The old barn, like many an old man or woman, does not concern itself with modern problems because it knows that there are no new problems under the sun. The old barn does not waste time or energy. It stands silently and steadily, a testament to the past and a ray of hope to the future. Just being near it, we instinctively know that we are safe. We have a purpose. We are a part of the whole. We are small rusty things that matter.