An open letter before the election

Posted 11/5/20

I write after church on Sunday. It has rained all morning, yet the sun is peeking from the clouds as I type. Knowing when the News + Record is published, I write these words assuming that you, gentle …

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An open letter before the election

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I write after church on Sunday. It has rained all morning, yet the sun is peeking from the clouds as I type. Knowing when the News + Record is published, I write these words assuming that you, gentle reader, already know the outcome of Tuesday’s national election. I write wondering what the future will be like.

I know what happened yesterday.

My wife had vacationed at the beach for three nights. Our three children spent a night here, then all of us decamped to my parents’ home in Raleigh. After topping off a lovely visit with Nana’s pumpkin pancakes, the kids and I came home ahead of their mother. I had designs on getting the house in order before the Halloween fun later that evening.

But as I unloaded the minivan, our 5-year-old son ran out of the house.

“Daddy, there’s an emergency in your bedroom!”

I dropped the suitcases and took the steps three at a time. I saw the puddle on the carpet first. Then the baseball-sized bulge in the ceiling, dripping water.

I rushed up to the third floor and shut off the valves to the bathroom sink and toilet. I raced back downstairs. If anything, the drip was faster and the bulge was bigger. Back up the stairs to the attic where I began hauling out boxes of photo albums, Christmas decorations and battery-operated toys that play music.

Our three children watched quietly until those toys hit the light of their playroom. Then, kids and toys sprang to life noisily, but for once I was too distracted to care about umpteen repeats of Old MacDonald.

Finally, I cleared a path to the water heater and saw the soaked plywood.

My readers should know that I have little knowledge about any home appliance. I’ve rented for the vast majority of my adult life. If something didn’t work, I called the landlord.

Now that I pay a bank for the privilege of living in a home, the buck stops here.

I did the only thing I knew how to do. I ran all the way downstairs into the backyard and hollered for my neighbor.

As usual, he was in the midst of his own home repair project. We first bonded over friendly discussions while he was rebuilding his front porch. Last fall, he installed a replacement garbage disposal for me for the price of beers. This summer, we share a few more frosty beverages.

Saturday, he halted his project and rushed around our fence. He helped me shut off the water heater and mop up while I began the project of drying the bedroom carpet.

A water leak can be a disaster. But thanks to a little luck and a helping hand, this particular leak is going to be fine. It cost me 30 minutes of stress as well as a few cold showers. But I imagine that, by the time you read these words, I’ll have a new water heater.

Perhaps you and I will also know if we have a new president. Based on our conversations, I don’t think that my neighbor would like that change. But I know that he offered to help fix the drywall on my ceiling. He tells me to holler if I need anything at all.

That gives me hope not only for my home but for our country. And I wanted you, gentle reader, to know this hope, which is why I write this Sunday afternoon as the sun peeks from the clouds.

Andrew Taylor-Troutman is the pastor of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church and author of Gently Between the Words: Essays and Poems. He is currently working from home with his wife and three children.


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