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If These Walls Could Speak

"If These Walls Could Speak" by Dan Oberg, artist's footprints, watercolor & ink pen, 2020

I had the privilege of participating in an online class with my former community, the Grunewald Guild, this past week. Entitled "Pilgrimage in Place: Drawing Our Journeys" with artist Matthew Whitney, we did meditative exercises focused upon the places we walk every day. We then created maps of our paths, using line, texture, words and images. For me, since I spend so much of my days walking up and down the hill here at St. Andrew's, my "map" was a simple drawing of the campus: the Lodge & Cottage, green spaces, driveway & highway, and the fabulous Hood Canal.

Walking it on the second day of class, barefoot, I became very aware of the many feet that have trod over this space for so many years. The blessedness of this beautiful "thin place" is not only it's natural wonders, but primarily the sacred times shared by its people for so long. To image that experience, I dipped my feet in watercolor, and made footprints over the map. I then took paint and colored in the places where my footprints overlapped the different elements of the map, and did a "paint by number": browns for buildings, green for lawn & garden, blue-gray for asphalt, and bright blue for the Canal.

As I thought & prayed over the image, the classic song by Jimmy Webb, "If These Walls Could Speak," kept coming into my mind. So, that's what I called it. Here are the verses of the song, which so aptly describe some of the memories made at St. Andrew's House. Thank you for all of them.

If these old walls, if these old walls could speak

Of things that they remember well

Stories and faces dearly held

A couple in love livin' week to week

Rooms full of laughter

If these walls could speak

If these old halls, hallowed halls could talk

These would have a tale to tell

Of sun goin' down and dinner bell

And children playing at hide and seek

From floor to rafter

If these halls could speak

If these old fashioned window panes were eyes

I guess they would have seen it all

Each little tear and sigh and footfall

And every dream that we came to seek

Or followed after

If these walls could speak

from "If These Walls Could Speak" by Jimmy Webb

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