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The Home-Keeping Wit: Welcome to the Here and Now

Nathan Hale Homestead, Coventry

      Emerson wrote of the “home-keeping wit…which finds all the elements of life in its own soil.”  He knew that “all enquiry into antiquity is the desire to do away with this wild, savage and preposterous There and Then and introduce in its place the Here and Now.”
    Multiple visits to the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry and places like it have helped me get a grip on what Emerson meant when he said that“ the hours should be instructed by the ages and the ages explained by the hours.” The present, if it is to have any meaning, or even any interest, has to have a solid reference point or points in the past. If a person develops amnesia to the point where they can’t remember their own name and where they lived two days ago, that is considered a tragic medical condition, yet we accept that same kind of amnesia when it comes to the history of our culture, the ground of our individual being. On the other hand, if our hours are nourished by the contemplation of an old house, then all the human consciousness that adheres to that land and building gives a most direct context to the living moment, the Here and Now.
    What is our life but a brief bubble of consciousness set to burst who knows when. Knowing that and feeling that only reinforces the sense of blessedness we find in old houses.
    William Morgan, in his excellent book A Simpler Way of Life: Old Farmhouses of New York & New England, reviewed in this issue, writes “…these farmhouses ring true. They have purity and simplicity that nurture an inner peace…There is a transcendence gained from the ordinary, the daily, and the humble that contributes to the true sense of home.”

                                                                                                                Max H. Peters


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