What is it that we love about very old things? I like nothing more than stumbling upon an old well weathered piece of wood or a rusty hunk of iron. Last night I talked about God’s perspective of time and how time carries us along as it flows. Tonight I’m thinking about our perspective. As time pulls us ever closer towards a destiny we cannot see clearly we can only measure the progress by looking back. Those things were once shiny and new now serve as landmarks. The old rusted trucks, crumbling stone and this old barn are like anchors that help us navigate the raging river of time. It’s even better if there’s a personal connection with the object. I have to wonder if anyone ever passes this barn and relives a special moment? Was there a first kiss that happened here? Was this the place where a spark grew into true love and then into a family? Was this the place where a parent answered a child’s important questions about life’s mysteries while doing the daily chores? Did a grandparent tell stories about when the parent was a kid? Do these stories still echo across the river of time? Yes. I think that they do. These very old things are the sentinels of memories that are still being made today.
This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
– Gollum’s Time Riddle, J.R.R Tolkien
About tonight’s image. The truck is part of another old drilling rig. This one is in Victor, West Virginia. It’s been in this spot for as long as I can remember. I have watched it erode away from the effects of time and I suppose it was that observation that inspired tonight’s post.
I have been thinking a great deal about the passage of time and the true nature of eternity. I’m not sure that Gollum had it right. We perceive time from the perspective of a mortal. This means that we see the flow of time from the inside of the flow. We’re carried along with the current like a cork on the river with little or no control over the speed or direction of travel. We see only the river with its peaks and valleys. But God sees time from the outside. He sees where the flow starts and where it it ends. He knows our exact position at what we perceive as any given moment. He knows where the current will carry us. In God’s eyes, there is no difference between yesterday, today and tomorrow. Sometimes when we’re praying and searching for an answer we wonder why God hasn’t answered or why he allows suffering to go on for so long. I think that the truth is that he’s already acted on our behalf but the flow of time hasn’t carried us there yet. And, that if he had acted in the wrong spot the flow of time would have carried us away from his provision. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Every so often I find that my curiosity gets the best of me. I’ve always been an explorer at heart and when I see a piece of junk left behind my inner child wants to play Indiana Jones. I have passed this old drilling rig for thirty years and kept telling myself one day I’ll go down into the overgrown field and check it out. It’s not as simple as it sounds. I live in rattlesnake territory and they absolutely love to make their dens in old machines. It was still winter I figured that they were still hibernating if not frozen stiff and so I made my way to the rig. Since there’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity, I moved cautiously through the briars and winter grasses. I used my tripod to push back the brush and make sure I actually wanted to step there before moving forward. When I finally reached my goal a took a few minutes to appreciate the object before my eyes. I was touching history. Maybe not Earth shattering history but someone’s history. The drilling rig was more than likely used by miners to get core samples for the coal industry. I looked over the broken gauges and switches. The key that turned the machine on was still in the ignition. Levers that were frozen with rust had not been touched by human hands in decades. The steel cables sagged and the wheels had rotted away. I think about the men who operated the drill. I imagine the hot July and August days on the job site. The dust rises from the bore hole turns into mud when it lands on their necks due to sweat. The type of men who do this kind of work are hardy and take pride in the job. They deal with the misery of labor by laughing when it’s over. I would not be surprised if break time included some pranks here and there. There always at least one person on a crew like this who is afraid of snakes and a cheap rubber snake left near a lunch box is better than T.V. These men are not just coworkers. They’re family. They say that history is really his story . But it’s their story and our story. And when you come in contact with one of the relics, it’s your story too.
I was taught that in order to be art, an image must show the passage of time. Perhaps that has something to do with my being attracted to old barns and cars that have been left to rot away in the middle of a open field. Time is the thing that we’re all born with but never can hold. Not even with iron spikes and steel clamps. Day after day and night after night the elements slowly reclaim the iron. Not even heavy steel bolts and clamps can resist the entropy ( the idea that all things move towards disorder) of the universe. The rust will always come.
Scientists say that our universe should not exist. The nature of the universe is such that energy is easily lost but not easily gained. The implication is that something or someone is adding energy to keep it going.
We’re made of tough stuff. But even as strong as we are our bodies along with our minds and spirits require maintenance to keep the corruption away. Some days I feel like Superman! Other days I say that the Man Of Steel is showing some rust. On those latter days I have to seek out the energy source re-establish order in my little part of the universe.
Image was taken in Glen Farris West Virginia. Never disturb railroad hardware that you may find near the tracks. It’s actually theft.
As humans, we tend to be a reflection of our friends and family. We absorb into ourselves the perspectives of those around us. I’m not certain where the quote came from but I’ve heard it said that, Just as water conforms to the vessel which holds it so does a man conform to his peers.” This why it’s important to surround yourself with people who have the right outlook on life.
If you surround yourself with people that constantly negative then you will eventually become negative yourself. But, if you can find those people who rise to the challenge then you yourself will began to rise. Subconsciously you will reshape yourself to fit the group.
I’ve been blessed with the best peers that life can offer. And I appreciate each and every one of you and I hope that I reflect you well!
Tonight’s image is on the Kanawha River. Looking out over Kanawha Falls in Glen Farris West Virginia.
This Jeep was parked in this very spot when I was a kid. It’s one of several old Willie’s Jeeps that the landowner has. In my imagination I can see young soldiers crossing the battlefield in this jeep. I imagine the stories of home that are exchanged. The men are hopeful because the war is over and they are returning home. I imagine that when the jeep is sold as surplus it falls into hands of someone who puts his heart and soul into making it roadworthy again. I can see him exit the highway on a whim to explore some mountain trail. He and his jeep are a good match. They are both rugged and free spirited. Not to bound down by the well traveled highway which goes only to and fro but not out. I imagine the fishing and camping trips with friends and laughter they enjoyed. The jeep started out with a mission to bring people home. Now with it’s mission accomplished it was time to rest. It made one last trip. It’s last escape from the pavement on the edge of the home it came back to. There it could stay parked and enjoy the peace.