October 14, 2011

every man's home is his castle, and this one comes with a draw bridge

I met a hermit the other day. He is very social and slightly flirty, but he is a hermit.

I never did find out the name of my hermit, but I wish I would have. As it is, I feel like Maria in The Sound of Music when she was praying for the children in her care, " ....and God bless what's his name...."

What? Oh. You want to know what on earth I'm talking about? Sorry. I'd love to tell you his story-I'm so glad you asked. Now you'll know my hermit too, and you can pray for him as well.

Last Sunday we went to a state park about 2 hours from home. I was standing near the door of the lodge, waiting for the rest of the family to arrive, when I spotted an old grandpa sitting in a rustic log rocking chair, apparently alone. We smiled at each other and began to chat.

I asked him where he was from and how many children he had and he asked me the same. Then he wanted to know if I had a job. I told him I hadn't had a "real" job in 25 years; instead, I've stayed home, raised 4 boys and home schooled along the way.

My answer, I think, inadvertently wounded an already broken heart. He told me his story, with a smile on his face, but I could see hurt behind his thick-lensed glasses.

He was born and raised not far from the state park we were visiting in. As a young man he'd gone to college and become an engineer. Somewhere along the way he'd met "her", the girl of his dreams, and asked her to be his wife. They hadn't been married long when they had a baby boy. Right around this time they found a beautiful piece of property, nestled in the hills and the forest about a mile from the state park. 16 acres of wooded privacy. They bought it and construction on their new home began.

They were so excited. It was going to be a lovely home and his bride wanted lovely new furniture to go with it. She asked her young husband if she could get a job, just for a bit, so they could buy that furniture. He consented and within a few weeks she was a working woman.

Well, a few months down the road she met another young man and ran off with him, taking their baby boy with her. My hermit was crushed. He finished the house, and then...then he built a draw bridge.

At this point in our visit my little grandpa stood up and pulled out his wallet-he wanted to show me something. It was a very old picture of a long, gravel driveway that meandered through the woods, over a creek, and up a hill. Right over the creek was a cozy little red covered bridge. This wasn't a normal covered bridge though. This one had a large door on the end with a padlock attached to it. I could see the necessity of that door, and that lock, if he'd built his home in the ghetto, or in jolly old England where a neighboring knight might attack, but here? In Indiana? Deep in the woods? Who was he afraid of??

(After he showed me the picture he sat down and looked at me. He grinned and said, "You know, there aren't too many women who are willing to stay home and take care of a family. If I could get you across that bridge, I'd lock the door and throw the key into the woods!")

Before I could think of a response to that statement he finshed his story.

Apparently, after about a year his wife thought better of her decision to leave and wanted to come home. She begged him to forgive her and take her back, but he refused. His heart and his property were padlocked shut and that was the end of that. He's lived all alone in that cozy little house for 50 years now. Nearly every day he gets in his car and drives over to the lodge and sits. He thinks, he watches people, he talks to some. But at the end of the day he goes home. He closes his little draw bridge and hides where no one can get in. No one can see him; no one can get at him; his life and his heart are safe, locked up tight....

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