So there are these windows.

Twenty years ago I came across this set of windows. They were being chucked out by someone, and to be honest I forget who, but I saw the potential. I just knew that hiding under all of that tacky white paint that was all peeled and cracked was cedar. And despite a couple of the panes of glass being cracked, the inconsistencies in the refraction meant the glass was old. Very old. And the old style arms to hold them open, and swing-lock handles with their ornate patterns meant these had a story.

And so I took them home and stuck them in the shed. Three sets of windows, each a double set. And there they have sat. They have survived several clean-outs, much to the disgust of everyone but me. And there were several attempts by stealth to accidentally leave them outside and see if the weather could defeat them, but to no avail. Every time they were moved, I would find them and put them back where they belonged – in the shed waiting for the ‘one day’ project! It would be that wonderful time when I would finish the workshop, and they would be the old swing-open feature piece. One day……

As the only person committed to their future, and having worn so much pressure to ditch them, it was mildly upsetting to hear that Rhonda had discovered a purpose for them. After all of those years of hiding them, advocating for them, and sometimes denying their existence to keep them safe, I suddenly found myself losing them to a lesser cause! Rhonda wanted to make picture frames to hang on the wall of our lounge room! Apart from the obvious sacrilege involved (These things were born to be windows….not just ‘pretty’, but ‘purposeful’), it was like she had completely forgotten her previous commitment to their demise!

And so picture frames it is. And if we were going to do this terrible thing, then at least let’s do it right. And so the quest began.

Each pane of glass was carefully removed. The old putty cut out, and the tiny nails used to hold the glass in place before puttying, had to be found. And then the layers of paint that had built up over seventy or eighty years had to be carefully stripped and scraped, until eventually the cedar framing was revealed. Not all of the paint was removed. Some is left because each of those layers held the story of a generation. And each frame had a story. All the people who had owned the house they were fitted to had lived a life behind that glass. It was a connection that had spanned four or five generations, and had weathered storms and floods, bushfires and droughts. At least one World War had come and gone, and the children who once looked out through them at the paddocks beyond the house block from those early days, have now long retired. Truth be told, the house is no longer surrounded by farmland, but sits in a residential area on the edge of town.

And after all the stripping, scraping and careful sanding, they were bees-waxed and hand polished because you simply can’t hide them behind a layer of paint. Each dent and imperfection is captured. Each streak of paint caught in the cracks and old nail holes telling a story. And with the old handles and hinges fitted, they speak of the certainty of time. Yes, they are absolutely beautiful. But more than just pieces of art, they are pieces history. Each has its story. And when the framers have finished mounting all of the photographs, they will capture our families history within their own. They’ll stand for all of the things we have taken for granted over more than forty years of marriage and raising children. They’ll remind us of the fact that every moment of our lives is there to be lived, because once it is lived it is gone. They’ll remind us we have forgotten more than we have remembered of the million moments that have shaped us into who we are now.

The Bible speaks of us living our lives to the fullest in every moment. Each day is one ‘banked’ in our history, and another day that captures both who we are, and who we will become. Each emotional ‘dent’ tells a story, just as much as every physical scar does. Those things that we see as ‘ordinary’ now, will one day be the things we look back on with a better understanding of how each has shaped us into who we have become. And just as with those window frames that so many people took for granted along their journey, when God’s plans have fully worked their way into our lives over time, we’ll look back and see that it is the people that matter. The ones we stood with through all of the storms and droughts, fires and floods of life, whose history is intertwined with our own.
I’m glad those old frames have found a new purpose. It may not be what the carpenter who made them had in mind, but I’m sure he’d be proud that his work is part of a new family’s history.

Have a great week. What will you write in to your family’s history today?

Geoff Brisby