Along the street, the sign on the fence says Blake, but there are other Blakes claiming this place by blood and lineage. Old and stately, built in 1867, this house sits beachside overlooking Charleston Harbor. The family has owned it since the 1890’s. The history is recorded in the courthouse but its life, breathing and sensory, is recorded in its walls and boards with family pictures and pieces — the silent secrets held tightly in the bull’s pen and the breeze carrying salt air and memories.
On the windward side, the rocking chairs clock their rhythm on the broad porch alongside the compass rose painted on the floor, gifting place to each new generation. And singing above the tide, the family tells its stories around that big, old dining table. This house echoes time and family and heart.
I married a Blake descendant, which is how I’ve come to know this place. The Decks and the Blakes crossed paths over the years, sewn together first by high school friendship as America entered its first world war, then years later, when a Blake bought the Deck dairy. Coincidence evokes chance, but destiny posits the certitude of eventuality. Some things are meant to be.
If a place is a compass, a certainty of direction toward which one can always turn, a restoration of soul and assurance, the Blake family can always turn to this house. There is a spirit here, a sense that those who are claimed by it belong not simply by birth, but by an overwhelming humility woven through time, imparting a reverence among all who come and inhale its soothing ethos. Wedged between histories, those who come here know this place is more than time and season and memory.
My intertwining with this house over the years emancipated my understanding. Because of it, I realize place is a form of worship, for what is worship but love and praise and thanks and humble recognition of something or someone greater than us.
This place arouses community, a love embracing neighbors and friends and beach-walking strangers. And if community is family, all have been welcomed and embraced at one time or another. This family and this house have withstood squalls and squabbles, the lapping tide of time and salt air sculpting its pastoral patina.
And yet, amid all the tangible memories – water gun fights, birthday parties, treasure hunts, naps in the hammock and The Lion King replayed on that windward stage – there is an indescribability to it all. There are so many words, and still, the right word is elusive. And each family member cherishes his own tangibility and indescribability, a feeling held in hearts.
Heart binds so many things.
Because of this house, I understand church is place, a confluence of worship, community and family, and above all, heart… a heart for God and others.
“Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5, NKJV).
Some things are meant to be.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15).
Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at email@example.com