The meadow and the cabin had a familiarity about it. I was certain I had been there before, perhaps when the cabin was first built. A lone soul now lived in the cabin but there were others who lived in the meadow. I visited the meadow often at first but there came time when I stayed away longer and longer.
In the early days, I thought it odd the others never entered the cabin. They remained in the meadow. He watched them closely as though they had something to teach and he something to learn. He was occupied more with some than I believed he should be and not near enough with others. There was no one to teach him, to warn him.
I returned after years of absence and noticed the change. Some of the others now lived in the cabin. I didn’t recognize many of those now on the inside as having been previously loitering in the meadow. The more I saw of the new faces inside the cabin, the less I saw of him. There were full days when he failed to appear at all. I began to wonder whether he lived there at all.
Time passed. There were several visits when those on the inside never appeared, never looked out a window or stepped outside. Occasionally I got a glimpse of them passing quickly by one window or another but none ever appeared even curious about what was going on outside of the cabin. However, the activity inside was palpable.
At first the noises from the cabin were playful. Laughter mixed with music. There was a certain youthfulness about what was happening inside. Later the sounds took on a different tone. The music stopped, the laughter grew dark. The cabin became crowded and not all those on the inside enjoyed one another’s company. Surprisingly, no one departed.
The outside of the cabin showed signs of considerable neglect. Years passed since the cabin had been painted and weather exacted its toll. Windows, broken or cracked during some of the struggles on the inside were never replaced. In the early years, a beautiful garden surrounded the property. Its beauty overshadowed the meadow. But it had been long untended. Virtually nothing but weeds now grew.
The condition of the cabin had deteriorated. I could no longer enjoy my walk through that corner of the meadow. Many days I avoided it altogether. It concerned me greatly those on the inside had become so consumed with themselves they were not willing to simply look out the window or wander out a door to see what had become of their beautiful home. If they could do so, they would readily understand the impact their neglect had on the entire meadow and all of us who walked its paths. But they did not. I could not help but feel a profound sadness.
One afternoon I was sitting quietly on a hill overlooking the meadow. I noticed the front door of the cabin open. Faces appeared at every window. I tried to account for all whom I knew to be inside. I could not find many. I did, however, see new faces. They appeared dismayed as their eyes scanned the dilapidated property. Others seemed amused or disinterested. Those faces did not remain long at the window, but others did, talking anxiously among themselves. It occurred to me that if the outside was in such bad shape, the inside could be even worse.
A lone figure appeared at the door, taller than the others and about my age. His demeanor was serious. I recalled he had entered the cabin years ago when the condition of the cabin had begun to deteriorate and he seemed to care little. He was much larger now. His presence was commanding.
He stood on the porch surveying the cabin and the garden. He noticed but did not acknowledge me. Within a short time he was hard at work. Sounds coming from the inside of the cabin evidenced a struggle among those living there but he paid them no heed. He busied himself with the chore of cleaning up. He worked methodically and intently, taking few breaks. He clearly knew what needed to be done and went about his task with single mindedness. Occasionally he glanced at me and at times would walk back inside the cabin but spent little time there before returning to his chores on the outside.
I offered to help but when he rejected the offer, I left. I returned later as he was finishing. Several were now watching from the windows. Some looked appreciative, others apprehensive. Upon seeing me, one called out to him to come inside. Then another called. He looked at me as though seeking approval. I smiled and nodded. I felt odd he had seemed to seek my approval. I had been little more than a spectator, perhaps even a voyeur. Clearly, some of those inside the cabin would not be pleased with his reappearance even while others were inviting his return. All understood having cleaned up the outside of the cabin, he would now insist on the same inside. I was sure there was much to be done.
If he went back in, I decided I would accompany him. His request for approval was more. He was asking my help and the decision he had to make became a choice for me as well. He turned to walk back through the door, I followed. I knew it was now time to return.