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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Barn Raisings and Leaky Faucets

Sometimes you wake up early, grab that cup of coffee, and immediately crank up the computer. No hesitation for you feel it in your bones that something enlightening is waiting to be read and shared. That is exactly what happened this morning. I opened email to a gigantuous list of messages but my eyes immediately fell upon Source of Inspiration and a posting titled Barn Raisings and Leaky Faucets. Barn raisings? I haven't heard that term in years...Now that is something from the past! Thus, lightbulb! and incentive to read what Pat Cegan might have written on the subject.

Let's look at a little history first. What is a barn raising? Does a helicopter with a huge hook simply swoop down out of the sky and lift a barn right off its foundation? Okay, okay, I know that sounds like something out of the movies and definitely is not the kind of 'barn raising' depicted here. (Look at the photograph.)

A barn raising north of Toronto, Canada in the 20th century. (en.wikipedia.org)
This is history, folks. This is people working together within a community. This is friends, family and sometimes strangers working side-by-side pitching in to help. This is gratitude. This is neighbor helping neighbor. This is a part of life...back in the day.

Hiring carpenters or other tradesmen to build a barn was not commonplace in the 18th and 19th centuries. Barn raising enlisted the help of members of the community, unpaid, to assist in the erection of a barn. Got your attention? That's right, "UNPAID!" Perhaps a feast of all feasts, picnic on the ground was payment enough as women went all out to prepare food, nourishment for everyone since the work often commenced at sunup and did not stop until sundown. 

Keep in mind this was a community effort so age did not restrict anyone from attending a barn raising. The youngest children played on the outskirts and often watched intently while the older boys fetched water, lumber, parts and tools. The young girls, of course, helped the women in preparation of the food.

Going back to the title, what about the leaky faucets? What connection could there possibly be to barn raisings and leaky faucets? While barn raisings may not be a familiar occurrence today, do we not encounter leaky faucets on a somewhat regular basis? Of course, we do! This, in turn, begs the question, "Do we call upon someone to repair a leaky faucet without them expecting payment?"

In Pat's words...

In the past, neighbors came
to “barn raisings” with an
eagerness to help. Working
together, a group of men
would build a barn for a
neighbor while the women
covered tables beneath the
trees with favorite recipes
of food from the harvest.
Today, it is a real challenge
to find someone who is willing
to fix a leaky faucet or other
small repair. If we do find
someone, we must pay an outrageous
amount of money.

How is it that few people know the
joy of helping, of giving? There
is great satisfaction in performing
an act of kindness without the
expectation of payment. Have we
failed to teach our children this
by demonstrating it in our own lives?

We live in isolation in cities, often
not knowing our neighbors’ names,
much less that they have a leaky faucet.
© Pat Cegan
Reflecting on Pat's words and the outrageous prices set upon getting a job done today, have you experienced any echoes of the past reminiscent of helping hands? 
Share your thoughts...I would love to hear what you have to say!