/dəˈskəv(ə)rē/ : the action or process of finding something or someone unexpectedly or in the course of a search
What is so fascinating about discovery? There’s a whole channel dedicated to it, some 88 million households pay to watch it! (Although there’s a lot of channels about a lot of things, so maybe that’s not a good example)
Regardless, words fascinate me; or really the meaning of words. The nuances. For instance, the word uncover, though similar in its general meaning is slightly different.
/ˌənˈkəvər/ : to discover something previously secret or unknown
Uncover has a more mysterious and perhaps romantic quality. For example, if you discover a one hundred dollar bill left in a birthday card from six months ago sitting on your bookshelf that you simply forgot about; you’d be pleased, I’m sure. But if you uncover a fifty dollar bill rolled up tightly and tucked in between the baseboard and the wall in a coat closet, though still pleased to be finding money, wouldn’t you be wondering why that fifty was tucked in there? Who put it there? How long has it been there? To uncover something, that item would first have to have been covered intentionally.
We have been uncovering bits and pieces of history this week at Neighbors Mercantile Co. It has truly been fascinating to find what has been hiding underneath (and above) the most recent layers of the building: beautiful brick walls, old wooden doors, unused windows, layers of wall paper, perfectly worn-out shiplap, milk glass light fixtures; it’s a wonderland of untold stories.
B&B Roofing and Construction crew has been blowing through this building like wildfire, and as things are uncovered we’ll check it out and ponder a moment as to what it was used for, or when it was put in, if it was original or added later. You can scroll through the photos below to see some of our findings.
Some of the decisions along this journey will include what to do with these items. Do we restore them? Do we remove them? Do we update them? Do we leave them worn out as they are? Take these old doors for example: is history preserved by leaving them as they are, or by stripping them down and bringing out the shine of that old wood as they might have looked when they were new? These are just some of the questions that have been rolling around in my mind this week. Renovating and preserving history are a bit different aren’t they? And what is called for in a space like this? I would say it’s a bit of a balancing act: honoring the past and still looking toward the future.
How relevant this thought is to me today. How do we honor our past; our reality before COVID-19: the way we ran a business, met with friends and family, and served our community? Holding this in one hand without grasping so tightly to it that we can’t find our way forward into something new. We don’t want to get stuck in the past, being strapped down by its preservation, and yet that’s what we know and are used to. We’d like to bring those bits and pieces with us for comfort.
How is your balance? Can you hold onto the past and reach toward the future as well? I don’t have a roadmap to doing that. But I think it’s worth asking ourselves those questions. I can’t help but look to Isaiah 43:16-19. The Israelites (God’s people) were a people with rich history that they remembered and honored often. Their exodus out of slavery in Egypt was an important and powerful story of their past. God had brought them through the Red Sea and killed the Egyptian army as it pursued them. Of course they would remember this story often. And yet:
This is what the Lord says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
God was still with them, but He was doing it in a new way! This wilderness that the world is in right now, is filled with uncertainty, and I think if you’re anything like me you long for the past a bit. You want to get back to your routine and not have to worry about these new threats and precautions. I encourage you not to linger in looking back, but let’s sand off these old doors, remember where we came from and move into the new, together. Yes, we will have to find new ways to do business, and meet with friends, and serve our community. Maybe we have to let go of the past a little bit in order to reach forward and step into something new.
As you ponder what this might look like for your own life, enjoy the photographic tour below of what has come before, and is now uncovered, at Neighbors Mercantile Co. I for one cannot wait for you to see how these pieces of history are made new in the months to come!