A time to uproot

Four of our five children and their families live out west, spread out between Calgary, Vernon and Vancouver. Because of the huge distances they have to travel when they come our way, they limit their visits to once a year, if they can afford the time and costs. This year, though, they have all indicated that they feel the need to show their faces in St. Catharines. Knowing that Alice and I are in all likelihood changing location this year motivates them to commit to seeing us one last time in our known location. Part of their reason is to say goodbye to the house that our family has lived in for over 30 years. Another big reason is that Alice and I need help to downscale our possessions so that we can move into a smaller space, hopefully with a less demanding lay-out.

The house we live in now basically takes up three floors and those floors contain limited spaces. Our main floor, for example does not offer washroom, bedroom or laundry facilities. Our daily activities constantly require us to go up and down flights of stairs. Don’t misunderstand me, we love the spaces we occupy, but we anticipate too many difficulties once climbing stairs becomes a burden or, God forbid, an impossibility.

Irreplaceable features
There are many advantages to residing in the kind of house we currently occupy. First of all, let me mention its location. We live in a quiet residential neighbourhood, and our modest plot (40 by 120 feet deep) opens up to a fine club-owned golf course. There is no fence between the golf course and the property our house stands on. From inside our house we can look out over acres of beautiful green grass. We and our neighbours consider this location a wonderful space from which to enjoy our privacy in all kinds of weather.

Secondly, our street, Highland Avenue, leads us quickly into an amazing park with valleys and creeks. We know and enjoy this park immensely as we have traversed it with 50-minute daily walks for almost 30 years.

Thirdly, all along our street stand single houses occupied by young families or older couples. These people know us and never fail to greet us. We couldn’t have asked for a more peaceful existence.

Let me mention one more unique and hard to replace feature of our house. Twenty-five years ago, our two sons, Ed and John, built a spacious addition to the back of our house. It’s basically a sunroom that spans 20 by 30 feet with almost floor to ceiling windows that span the width of the room. Five roof windows complement this invitation to the sun, the snow and the rain to give evidence of God’s playful display of his presence in our world.

The path of reduction
Soon this paradisal existence will end.

For many of our older readers all of this probably sounds very ordinary. The time comes when we have to downsize. Many of you have made the necessary transitions well before we have. It’s all by God’s grace that we have not run into any housing problem so far. Most of that is due to our relative good health. I would not want to pretend that I climb the stairs as easily and as often as I used to. Since I endured a stroke about two years ago, my energy level is not spilling over with great enthusiasm, especially not when I go up the inevitable hills during my morning walk or the equally inevitable stairs to the various essential places of our house. And the merciless prediction of getting older, if God allows it, sets our feet on the path of reduction. After all, “there is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.”

And all of this is good because we live in a universe that far exceeds our dimensions, and it is big enough and lasts long enough to give evidence of God’s plan to gather in all the treasures he has generously distributed through the ages.

  • Bert Witvoet is a former educator and editor of various magazines, including the Christian Courier, who lives with his wife, Alice, in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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