Once upon a time there was a house that flew. Just looking at it, you wouldn’t think it could, but appearances can be misleading when it comes to things supernatural.
This house was on a street with an ordinary name, Fifth Avenue, and it was made of common materials – a raised concrete foundation, a wood frame, grey composition shingles, white wood siding, blue trim and a small concrete front porch with a metal rain gutter.
Nowhere on the exterior of the house was there any flying gear, no wing with various pods, nacelles, blisters, booms or any other protuberances that might help in the air, no thrust or lift or loft whereby roof and floor and walls might rise above the other roofs and soar.
The house did have one good feature — its oaken floors — and when it was new, they gleamed with swirls and knots and eyes and twists. But as time passed into time, and stain and scratch and rot and creak had its say, the floors sagged and lost their luster and were covered with short napped carpet.
Other features suffered too. The weights in the double hung windows broke off and fell into the walls, the windows refused to slide on their tracks anymore, the bedroom cupboards gathered too many coats of paint, the concrete on the front porch chipped and cracked, was painted and chipped again, the wood siding rotted and the family moved out.
That’s how the world goes, from gleam to rot and rust in no time at all.
Then the house was purchased by the church that sat on the corner next to it and was turned into an office.
Every home has a soul, a heart and an eye. The soul is the kitchen, the heart the furnace, the eye is the fire place. These were all removed, the floor furnace because it was a fire hazard, the fire place because its heat might damage the computers, the kitchen because the space was needed for the financial secretary. Where dinner once appeared with steamy comfort, cold numbers were added up in rows, papers stacked in stacks and all marched out the door to meetings.
In the front room an L-shaped secretary’s desk took the place of the couch, file cabinets took the place of end tables, rolling office chairs the place of easy chairs, and a waist-high wooden wall was put up across the room to form a reception area. The bedrooms became offices for the pastors, and in these rooms faux-wood desks took the places of beds and comforters, book shelves took the place of dressers and hard plastic floor mats took the place of throw rugs.
It was a house; masquerading as an office, and it was a house, trying to blend into a church.
The house was California bungalow, the church Spanish Revival, the house wood sided, the church textured stucco, the house window paned, the church glassed with huge arches, the house a low sloping roof, the church a high bell tower with a cross on top and beautiful red tiles at the peak.
And there they sat in grave discomfort and profound discontinuity, until exactly at 12 noon on a Tuesday in February, the house flew. First it levitated and rose four feet off the ground. Then it turned sideways and went slowly out over the front lawn, over the terraced wall, over the sidewalk, and picking up speed off it flew east down Fifth Ave. Several blocks along, it turned right on Third, flew south a bit, cut over on F Street to Del Mar Street and slipped quietly into an empty lot. It set down among small houses there, all houses with front porches, wood siding and low roofs. It had flown, but it also knew it had been cast, into a friendly sea.
What was amazing, and led to much speculation, was that when it came down out of the air, it was still perfectly together, even down to the rain gutter hanging off the front porch, and no siding was lost.
And now, where there had been an office, there was once again a kitchen with stove and counter tops, where there had been desks, there were now couches, where there were office chairs, there were now were beds, and where there were church leaders, now there were children, running on the gleaming, refinished oak floors, and parents telling them to slow down.
It was a miracle! At least some said so, and then they mused how new grows old, old grows new, how loss is gain and what we think will never fly – it flies! — and how we have only a thin and wispy understanding of what can happen here.
One person said that it was hard to see the old house go, but perhaps harder if it had stayed, for when it went it was as if a kind of pain went too, and not coming back was itself replaced by the warmth of the sun falling in soft lines on the open area next to the church.
Where the house had been, the church made a courtyard, just the kind of interior courtyard that so often graces a Spanish Revival building, and they laid stone pavers, planted trees and flowers and enclosed it with a beautiful decorative stucco wall to keep the children safe that played therein.
And so things change, and do not anywhere remain the same, and so the world is full of miracle unexplained, stolid things that fly, common things transmogrify — a sunny courtyard where a couch becomes a garden bench, a stove an outdoor barbeque, a front room lamp a tree, an old oak floor a bright green lawn and more.