In many religious traditions, “laying on of hands” is an important part of healing rituals and rites of passage. There is recognition of the capacity of touch to communicate powerful emotions and energies from one person to another. This idea is echoed between owner and home in the rituals of “sweat equity.”
Sweat Equity: An interest or increased value in a property earned from labor toward upkeep or restoration. This term is used to describe the value added to real estate by owners who make improvements by their own toil.
This week, I have been toiling. The first phases of demolition and construction were beyond the scope of my ability. But, I can paint and clean-up. My husband, two older sons and I spent the holiday weekend and following week sweeping, wiping, priming and painting on the third floor of our old house.
There is an entire TV network devoted to sweat equity, the idea of “doing it yourself”, as well as a plethora of DIY magazines, blogs and websites. There is so much information (much of it practical and valuable) out there for homeowners who want to tackle projects themselves. But, I have yet to find any media outlet that addresses what I believe is the most valuable part of “doing it yourself” – laying hands on your house. This act bonds you to your home in a very intimate way. Cleaning and painting are great examples because they are activities that require literally laying your hands on every surface of the room.
I love the way the rooms on the third floor look with their fresh coats of paint. I am pleased with the color and how it looks on the newly patched and primed walls. I am beginning to feel at home in the space.
Painting is a meditative activity. It has a rhythm that invites thoughts to stray. Of course, my thoughts ranged over topics related to houses and the definition of home. I like to think that my toil in this house is making it into a real ‘home.’ I hope that “laying on” my hands communicates my good wishes to the house and my hopes for all who will call it home. My wishes for them are best expressed in a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson.
“I wish that life [as it will be lived in this old house] should not be cheap but sacred…the days should be as centuries, loaded and fragrant”
As I touch the old house, I bless it and all who enter in.