Friend, You’ve Got a Lot of Life Left in You Yet
Do you sometimes feel that your best years are behind you, that life's been downsized in ways you just weren't ready for? I’ve got a recipe for something I hope to make soon called “70.” I’m pleased to say I’ve got all the ingredients on hand save one.
Want to guess what’s missing?
Last night, a mighty wind drew me out onto our front deck at twilight. As towering cumulous clouds boiled up from the north, our hanging baskets of Bonfire begonias rocked wildly, sending a fiery blizzard of blooms scudding across the wooden planks.
Peace Ridge perches on a rocky ledge surrounded by hundreds of trees. I caught my breath as limbs hurtled to the ground around the house. Nature’s detritus blew across the deck as sheets of rain fell, obscuring the mountains and blanketing the valley below.
Our home is in the heart of the Appalachian rain forest, with thunderstorms an almost daily occurrence deep in summertime. We’re no stranger to storms, but this one was what they call in these parts a frog-strangler— a real gullywasher. When the show was over and the curtain of darkness fell, I wanted to applaud in admiration.
Instead, I grabbed my broom and got to work, like the custodian whose job begins once customers have departed the theatre leaving popcorn behind on the floor.
Now, mine is no ordinary broom, mind you. I’m not normally partial to cleaning utensils, but this one has a tale attached. Tidying up’s pure pleasure when you’re holding a story right there in your hands.
When we purchased our property five years back, it came with a one-room cabin on the lower lawn overlooking the pond. Once habitat for a few garden tools and a mower, the little shed had fallen into disrepair until its only purpose was as a delivery room for wasp and hornet mamas.
Mike spent our first winter here insulating walls, replacing windows and floor, and snugging the space tight in his mission to give me a space of my own to weave words.
But what’s a cabin without a porch, and what’s a dusty wooden porch without a broom? This is southern Appalachia, after all, and I’d seen old-timey photos of grannies with tassels of broom corn in their laps, braiding sweepers. Surely I could pick one up for a song (bluegrass, that is).
But those old grannies have taken to working at Walmart these days, which pays better than scrapin’ your hands raw tying brooms that ignorant flatlanders think they can buy on the cheap.
And then one day I saw her – the sweeper of my dreams.
I’d taken houseguests to the Folk Art museum on the Blue Ridge Parkway, when what to my wondering eyes should appear in the gift shop but a handcrafted broom. A singular broom of such golden beauty it was love at first sight.
I hoisted the queen of all cleaners in my hands, admiring her slim handle carved from a sweet gum tree, a honeysuckle vine spiraling to her neck.
The note attached named her birthplace: the French Broad River near Asheville, and her creator: An anointed craftsperson named Marlow Gates. This broom was born to come home with me! Until I noticed the three-figure price tag.
Sometimes love is just too costly, y’all.
Disappointed, I rejoined my friends, and we headed outside to the car. But as we climbed in, one in our group hurried to catch up, a long package in her hand.
“Shush, now,” Claire said, stowing it in my trunk. “This is for you later. You two were meant to be together.”
Greater love hath no woman than this: To gift a friend with the broom of her dreams.
But as my husband sometimes asks me kindly, does this story have a point?
It’s just this, friends. My broom is no longer new, though she still sweeps clean. But when the time comes that she can’t fulfill her Creator’s purpose anymore, is she destined to be discarded?
No, ma’am! I have Marlow’s solemn promise in writing to restore my cleaning companion, my household helper, my prize possession whenever she wears out.
Because that’s what we have in common. My Creator made me with a beautiful purpose, too.
I’m studying that recipe for 70, and I’ve got what it requires except for one thing none of us are guaranteed.
So when mine comes and I just plumb wear out?
Well, now, God’s declared in his Book that He’ll restore me good as new. You, too. Better than new, in fact. A complete overhaul.
Your best years are ahead of you, friend. And that’s a promise.
- Maggie Wallem Rowe, 2022
“We know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again.
“Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.” 2 Corinthians 5: The Message
Maggie Wallem Rowe is an author, dramatist, and speaker who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina. Her first book, This Life We Share, was published by NavPress in 2020. Her second, Life is Sweet, Y'all, released from Tyndale House this spring. Both are available anywhere books are sold. Maggie and her husband, Mike, are the parents of three young adults, two bonus kids, and six high-energy grandchildren.