Friday, August 31, 2012

Living Off Margin

Sitting here at Merridees Breadbasket in downtown Franklin and watching the manic movement of people reminds me of the times I spent observing the ant hills of my youth in rural Virginia. There is a hum of activity, some of which appears purposeful and some not so much, but what stands out to me is the pace of the procession. Judging by the furrowed brows of people’s faces, it appears that many are left without much margin in their lives.

As I observe this I am reminded of a quote by bestselling author John Eldredge: “The strategy of the enemy of our souls in the age we live now is busyness.” Amen to that. After failing to connect with a couple of friends recently despite repeated attempts on my part to accommodate their schedules, I finally surmised the other day that people are simply too busy for their own good.

It was impressionist composer Claude Debussy who remarked, “Music is the space between the notes.” And I couldn’t agree more. What is missing in the modern lifestyle is the equivalent of silence to accentuate the magic of life’s music. Rather than arranging life’s activities to allow for times of serendipity, people seem content to live with little or no margin at all in their lives.

Soon after moving here to Franklin I delighted in the realization that our new home is located off a street called Margin. As a matter of fact, we live between the streets of Church and Margin, which I interpret to be a sign of the times. When those who count themselves among God’s people can’t find the time to fellowship with one another, then much is lost in the meantime.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ownership Is Overrated

I’ve been thinking lately about the journey my wife and I have embarked upon and how much we are enjoying the liberty that comes with the leasing lifestyle. For example, our weekends are typically palettes of time to paint as we please rather than laundry lists of household chores that come with home ownership, not the least of which for us was landscaping a large lawn that no pet or child ever enjoyed, as we had neither.

An added feature of our home here in Franklin is that our place is also nicely furnished with antiques and artwork so that it can feel as if we are living at a boutique hotel rather than an historic house. And one of my favorite aspects of leasing is the ability to call the owner with the inevitable maintenance issues that arise, as honey-do lists were never my favorite pastime.

A first for us is our lease of a vehicle upon moving here since we used to opt for ownership until we became convinced that leasing made more sense for us. For my wife and I it has become about operating big ticket items versus owning them, especially when it comes to the vagaries of vehicle maintenance. As the ad for a boat charter company stated, “we own the boats, you own the memories.” After all, it’s not about a life of stuff; it’s about the stuff of life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Of Church Bells and Community

As I sit here at the Five Points Starbucks in Historic Franklin, cornering a table and watching people as I write, I am reminded of the strong sense of community here and how it is something that I crave wherever I live. Churches are one of the pillars of community and just this morning I passed the church between home and here that serenades us with the peal of hymns each hour, not an everyday occurrence elsewhere.

Yet as I thought about it, I realized that everywhere my wife and I have lived for the better part of our more than two decades together has been within earshot of church bells, a fact that had never dawned on me before. Whether the Methodist church here in Franklin, the Congregational church in Nantucket, the Presbyterian church in Celebration, the Presbyterian church in Mount Dora or the Methodist church in Savannah, we have been blessed to live near these pillars of community.

Another recurring theme at the places we’ve called home is our proximity to each town’s other community outposts such as the post office, public library, city hall and local bank. It is no small pleasure to be able to take care of life’s business within walking distance of home and it is not a convenience that I take for granted. My wife and I have made it a point to live in various versions of “Mayberry” and we cherish the sense of community.