I take my camera and my son and head off to tutoring on a Wisconsin winter morning. Driving through fields, weathered and worn barns call out for notice. Yes, there are new but it’s the old I want. I don’t want to see perfection. I want to see holes and cracks and ragged edges. I want to see paint thinned, veneers stripped, and the real wood grain beneath. I want to get up close and personal and take time. Marvel at the beauty of complexity, my heart whispers soft.
My patient assistant holds and readies equipment for each stop. He not-so-politely reminds me to fasten my seatbelt after every reentry by mimicking in ear-piercing tone the sound of vehicular electronic.
“DING! DING! DING! DING!!!”
“Would you please just ask me to fasten my seat-belt?” I ask.
We laugh. He’s far too creative for something so straight-forward and dull.
On to the next barn.
Why am I so attracted to these wooden storehouses? Because they each have a unique story. They each have weathered storms in their own way and no two are alike. Some still stand straight. Some lean. Some have missing planks. Some have fallen. Even then, beauty remains if you look. Even then, restoration can happen.
Aren’t we just like beautiful barns?
Seasons of life change. Storms pound. We are weathered and worn. Some of us lean a bit. Some of us have been torn down. But there’s beauty here in the midst. There’s beauty that comes from the wearing and tearing of time and circumstance.
The beauty? We still long to be filled and store up and pour out onto a hungry world. We understand suffering for having weathered it ourselves. We pour out for animals and people to fill and grow and satisfy. No matter our present condition, we are beautiful, we have purpose. We are loved and appreciated by the One who made us and fills us and pours through us. And those of us who know the stories of the weathered and worn appreciate the pouring even more. Near perfect-looking barns might store and pour, but there’s a great and humble appreciation when receiving willing flow from the weathered and worn, the cracked and torn.
So the next time storms move in—when seasons change—when elements wear—remember the character building. Remember the rich patina in the making. Remember that worn down and humble structures are the most beautiful and prized. And even if we fall apart, we have a Master Craftsman who reclaims and restores and builds anew–like our bathroom mirrors once framed in perfectly shiny brass.
A barn fell close to here one day. Our master craftsman searched through the debris and found gorgeous planks. He envisioned my request for less-than-perfect and chose wood with cracks and holes. And then he went to work.
Beautiful! Strikingly, beautifully, reclaimed and restored.
Photographer’s assistant Nick Johnson.