Saturday, April 28, 2007

Wide Open Spaces

When I was a teen, we had an eight-track recording of Christine Wyrtzen, daughter of Jack Wyrtzen of Word of Life fame. My sister and I played that old tape countless times. One of her songs, Back Home, often came to mind years later as I traipsed the inner city streets of Chicago during my college years. I was pleased to find she still sings but couldn't locate this song online. Sing it with me if you remember it:

Back home, where the air is cleaner,
Back home, where the grass is greener,
There's nowhere else on earth
That I'd rather be.

Oh I don't mind the city
A week at a time,
But apartment life for me is simply way out of line.
I feel the open spaces calling out to me,
Back home where I live.

Having grown up in the country on seventeen acres that bordered my gram's nearly ten acres, with not another neighbor's house in sight unless we walked to the top of our field, I have to say I'm a lover of Wide Open Spaces. When my husband and I were looking for a home to buy, all I saw was brick wall after brick wall . . . eight - ten - twenty feet from the next one. The house would be cute until I walked into the bedroom, looked out the window and saw the neighbor's house.

Then we toured an unimposing little two-bedroom ranch around the corner from my inlaws. I only agreed to look as a courtesy. (Come on, how many of you live next to your inlaws!) The kitchen was a shoebox; the diningroom was crowded with her oversized china cabinet. The owner made it a point to note the paneled bedrooms - she was clearly proud of that "real wood paneling." I was not impressed. Then we moved to the backyard and I gulped. For, as long as I looked straight ahead, I could see nothing but yard and trees! Talk about Wide Open Spaces. Suddenly the place didn't look quite so bad. And so the little house with the big backyard became ours.

Fast-forward nine years. We're still here. And I just got done reading Lisa Samson's newest offering, Quaker Summer, which I recently reviewed. And I'm wondering . . . are those Wide Open Spaces really all they're cracked up to be? We just put up a privacy fence on one side. The other is flanked by overgrown forsythia planted many years ago by our other neighbor. We say our front door is always open but we rarely talk to our neighbors. And I'm just wondering . . . do those Wide Open Spaces represent a distance I strive to keep from others who may need me to reach out to them? I can't help but thinking the mass exodus from city to suburbs to country has caused Christians to move away from people who need us most.

I still love that song, "Back Home." And I'm still a lover of my Wide Open Spaces. But I don't want to remain unaware of those who never get to enjoy them. Who wake up in the morning on the street with a hangover, or huddled in a corner, fearing yet another beating. Who have nowhere to escape but drugs or alcohol. Children who have to beg for yet another meal. Elderly people, long forgotten, with no one to listen to their musings. I love the peace and quiet I enjoy in my Wide Open Spaces. But I'm not sure Jesus wants to be confined to them.

9 comments:

Mary Ann said...

Great Post Di! I think that tape was worn out just as cassettes were becoming popular. You will have to sing it for me sometime...since I can't remember the tune.

Kim said...

Good post, Diane. I have always wanted to live in the middle of no where with lots of land surrounding me, but I do enjoy our neighbors so much. Your post is very thought provoking...I need to stew it over for a while and see if I want wide open spaces or close neighbors.

Have a great evening!

Katrina said...

Great thoughts Dianne -- how wide open spaces can actually confine us. So true. I like my space, but yes, I think I sometimes use that space to isolate myself -- which is not what God intends at all.

Oh - and you know how I long I lived next to my in-laws! :)

gail said...

Some good thoughts here Dianne. I like having neighbors but I'm not always very good about seeing them either. And have longed for a fence or hedge to have privacy!
Interesting to think on!

Becky said...

Dianne, I came by to check out your blog when I saw your comment on mine. I love it! Funny that Quaker Summer is on my reading list too, and after reading your review I think I need to move it to the top. Has to do with some things I have not really shared that the Butler and I are going through together. My retiring and the reasons behind it include a simpler lifestyle choice, and the desire to make the big thing the big thing if you know what I mean.

Anyway, not to talk your ear off, but I will be back to visit.

Also, a big thanks to you for your sweet words on teh loss of our Abby dog. We are grieving but I know we will be ok in time.

Barb said...

Your childhood sounds like heaven, Dianne. And so does your house. I iamgine in nine years you've made some changes but I would have bought it for the back yard, too.

The things you mention in the last paragraph are heartbreaking. The thing that moved me most last week watching Idol Gives Back was all the hungry children. I cannot imagine. I agree with you. We need to stay on task.

Kathleen Marie said...

I do live in the middle of nowhere, but no wide open spaces unless you come to a prairie or are on top of a mountain. It is peaceful and so often I just know God is here walking in his garden.

But, at times I do find myself getting lonely for human voices during the day so I always enjoy it when my hubby and son come home.

Amy Jane said...

I find I need "open spaces" to feel peaceful.

They don't need to be big our outdoors, but they give me the feeling of expanding.

Isn't is Ps 18 that the Psalmist talks about God setting the writer's feet in "a wide place"?

My wide places happens indoors-- all my furniture likes the walls.

No "artistic" arrangements or coffee tables-- I want to see floor.

Likewise it is the clutter (usually from our small children) covering the floor that makes me feel most confined.

Throwing it all in a basket, just to see the floor, is sometimes the best pick-me-up out there.

Cindy said...

Dianne, I loved Christine Wyrtzen...what a lovely voice she had! I wonder what she's doing now?