Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
November 23, 2009
Tether's End spins a cocoon of warmth, safety
What often seems like a prison turns out to be a sanctuary
My Glass is Half Full
By Mark Pickup
I was a mischievous child. My mother would often shake her finger at me and say, "I'm just about at the end of my tether with you, young man." It usually meant I was getting dangerously close to a well-deserved spanking.
I never really knew where the end of the tether was other than the understanding that I was near it. Many years later I would identify its location.
My wife, LaRee, and I built Tether's End 22 years ago, a few years after I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We could see the aggressive course the disease was taking so we decided to build a wheelchair accessible house in case I ended up in a wheelchair. The house sits close to the ground. There's a reason for that.
We wanted to avoid ramps. The sidewalks were poured on a slight incline up to the lips of both the front and back doors. The exterior and interior doors are wider than normal doors. The bathroom and laundry area on the main floor are completely accessible.
The only part of Tether's End that is not accessible is the basement. On those rare occasions when the furnace needs tending, my wife, son or friendly neighbours are willing to help.
It was hard to get our heads around the idea of wheelchair accessibility. After all, our lives were not exposed to disability. The idea of disability was foreign and unwelcome to our active lifestyle. Our children were 11 and eight when we built this house.
Our fears came true. I eventually became wheelchair dependent. With a twinge of bitterness I called the house Tether's End.
We have a big backyard bordered by a massive hedge and a cluster of mature maple trees. A swing hangs from a gigantic limb. Our children are adults now and have families of their own. The grandchildren love to be pushed on the swing.
After 22 years there's so much family history at Tether's End. It's situated at the bottom of the hill in our town after which Beaumont is named.
LaRee has a natural talent for interior decorating and made our house warm and inviting. Despite my slow physical degeneration, LaRee brought sweetness to my world.
In winter months I love to have a crackling fire in our living room wood fireplace. I move my wheelchair close to the warmth and read a book or work on my laptop computer and listen to music.
Occasionally I'll look out the window at the snowy backyard and the dormant maples. Cold winds drift snow up against a wrought-iron gate in the hedge. The deserted swing sways listlessly back and forth in the crisp winter air. At such moments, I am occasionally surprised by his presence.
As the winter deepens, blizzards and bone chilling winds blow across the Canadian Prairies. Deep snow and frigid temperatures can make travel in a wheelchair difficult, if not impossible.
I find myself cloistered in Tether's End for days or weeks at a time with my books, music, computer, sweaters and slippers - and Christ's presence.
The smell of burning wood in the fireplace and coffee brewing in the kitchen helps me enjoy my cloistered months. My wife and I retire early and rise late on short winter days. It is a spiritual time.
The hustle and bustle of summer activity has faded to memories. God uses the slow and restful winter months to talk to me, to teach me, comfort me.
I am happy here. But nothing on earth can be anything more than a temporary dwelling while waiting to be at my eternal home in heaven. Contentment is my possession here. Joy will be my continual possession there.
The tethers of earthly limitations will give way to the freedom of eternity with Christ. The name Tether's End has come to symbolize for me a safe and restful place I can go when I feel at the end of my emotional or physical rope.
CHRIST SETS US FREE
When we are at the end of worldly tethers, can we know that Christ's love abides with us; my body is decaying but he is here with me.
We read in 2 Corinthians 5.1, "For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven."
My resurrected body will not be tethered by disease, disability or age. All earthly tethers will disappear. The truth, which is Christ, will set us free.
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