Mychal Wilmes: Have faith that all things will work out

January 1, 2019
Mychal Wilmes

The progress of the fundraising campaign to revitalize West Concord’s park and playground is measured by a cardboard thermometer near the evergreen decorated in Christmas lights.

The necessary funds — $75,000 or so to repair playground equipment and to make the park meet Americans With Disabilities Act standards — isn’t exceedingly exorbitant, but nonetheless important.

Small, rural communities across Minnesota face similar challenges at a time when they are struggling to remain vibrant and relevant in changing times. Antiquated sewers, streets, water mains and other basic infrastructure must be updated at great cost. West Concord is struggling with a small tax base and a population that hasn’t significantly grown since the 1950s.

Much is expected of the volunteers who serve on the critically important ambulance and fire crews.

Getting people involved is essential to a small town’s survival. That realization makes it somewhat puzzling that I remain voluntarily sidelined. City and township government is the purest form of democracy, but getting involved can lead to spats and bruising disagreements.

Isolation, except for near-daily forays for coffee and talk, is made easier by living in the country, where the nearest neighbors are at least a half-mile away.

Kathy, who relishes community involvement, is involved in several town, church and study clubs and asks why I don’t participate. Solitude conceived by isolation suits me. She, for various other reasons as well, would like us to move to town.

I know where she comes from, but it is something more than selfishness that resists relocation. The possibility that a next-door-neighbor’s world would be but a window away is unsettling. My friends — the trees that have grown from saplings, the fox who lopes through the windbreak and the nattering squirrels — would be sorely missed.

A solitary voice speaks clearest as it echoes off a tin roof and cold air. The outside voice shouts a gibberish that can’t be interrupted while the inner voice speaks softly but conflicted. It involves a clash between what is possible and the impossible.

Ralph Waldo Emerson — a poetic seeker of solitude — wrote, “These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter the world.’’

The homestead is self-named “Dead-End Farm,’’ which befits my intent. I would happily concede to moving back home to the mud and creek that was played in, to the tilled soil and to the lush pasture where dandelions and wildflowers blossomed, and cattle grazed.

Kathy grows more frustrated each time her request to look at yet another house in town that has come up for sale is refused. An often-broached topic involves picking a home in West Concord, Blooming Prairie or Hayfield and it climaxes with Kathy asking which one I would choose.

It has been said that humans may well debate for many minutes about the next meal’s menu, but life-changing decisions are often made quickly from the gut.

The conversation about moving ends with repeated reassurance that all things will eventually work out as they are meant to be. Faith, which follows love and hope in our greatest gifts, is invaluable in unsettled times.

The unchanging is comfortable when the world races pell-mell ahead.

Brick and mortar and dollars aren’t adequate measurements of a home’s worth. A house is made perfect for those who dwell within it. Our house groans in the cold, and the wind rattles its windows when it blows hard from the north.

The sound of children who grew up within its walls continue to be heard among the remnants they’ve left behind. Dolls and games, baseball gloves and hats, stuffed animals and dreams.

Yes, I have faith that all that is important will work itself out.

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