Restoration is not easy. Besides the demand of adherence to historic standards and the extra pressure to employ for modern function things antique and often fragile it also asks everyone to adjust away from old habits and practices. The paths we walk, the doors we enter, the seats we occupy feel like they are off limits until the dust settles again.
When the restoration work is done some of our habits return and some never are practiced again. Recovery is the partner to restoration because it also names the new customs or habits that give us a sense of self and others as much like the best of the past once gave us. I'm imagining new ways to use the patio, increased use of the “little house”, a parlor that is once again a showpiece (think wedding photos!).
These concepts of restoration and recovery apply to us as much as our buildings because we are embodied beings, we are incarnated. We don't just float around like ghosts immune to gravity or solidity. We are grounded and consequential, we have weight and presence, we leave tracks and markers.
Because we are incarnated our recovery shows through our behaviors, our adaptations and our learning. When the work is done on the patio and the connections to the “little house” the changes that will matter the most will be the ones that we find in our recoveries. Restoration sets the stage and recovery sings the old songs in a new way.
Because we are incarnated our recovery means we are not alone. Every soul who occupies these spaces renewed through faithful restoration helps all others to find their ways in and through the same spaces. As we see and hear about the joy or pleasures that others have experienced because the patio is easier to use, the parlor brightened, we are drawn to find our own experience after them and in some cases with them.
Because we are incarnated our use participates in the reinterpretation of space. What was seldom used can become special, sacred, religious. I remember how dear Ginger would put her lawn chair in the space between the parish house and the church and just sit there. Her spirit is still helping us to embody a new use of that space.
Years ago when that recovered Episcopal cohort restored and reinterpreted an old Methodist worship space they embodied a spirit that still walks the grounds, sits in our pews, visits our parlor and gazes across our patios. Our uses will likely differ to varying degrees from those first to call 338 Academy St. their parish home. But we are just like them as we restore and reinterpret these same spaces 55+ years later. Thanks be to God for their embodiment and continued presence.