This post is a follow up on our move to be near Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma.
We are finally here. After an exhausting, multi-stage move that lasted over a week, we arrived at our new home here in Hulbert, Oklahoma two weeks ago today. It’s been a joyful couple of weeks, filled with the happiness, excitement, and busyness that comes with owning your first home. Both Laura and I have been filled with a deep contentment and peace, confident that we are exactly where God wants us to be. We feel at home in a way that we haven’t since we’ve been married.
But it’s also been a time of trial, not without hardships. Those who live here assured us that almost everyone who comes to live near the monastery experiences some trial almost immediately. We thought optimistically that we might be the first family to escape, but we didn’t. More on that in a moment. First, a little bit about our experience so far.
Country life is certainly different than the city, and we love it. Chickens cluck calmly around our yard. There’s wide open spaces, with cows grazing in the distance. It’s still and quiet, with no honking traffic or police sirens. And at night, you can actually see the stars.
One of the biggest differences between the city and the country is that nearly everyone knows everyone. And that is no exaggeration. Almost everyone we’ve met here knows each other, and they treat each other like one large extended family. People driving by wave hello, something that always catches me off guard. Neighbors meander down the driveway for a chat that quickly turns into an hour of getting to know one another.
Everyone too is willing to help at a moment’s notice. Our neighbor came by with his front loader to help us move a huge pile of dirt and trash, a task that would have taken hours of back-breaking work otherwise. He worked hard and sweated with me as we loaded it with heavy rocks and gravel. I had met him only a few minutes earlier, but it didn’t matter. We were neighbors.
Businesses also operate differently. Many don’t have websites, they rely on word of mouth. It isn’t hard to get recommendations, as everyone seems to know the best man for whatever job you need done. And chances are, your electrician or concrete man lives right down the road.
The other major difference in the country is the discernible lack of hurriedness. Time seems to slow here. I’m used to business-like interactions, quick, impersonal, and efficient. That’s how it is in the city. But here, everyone wants to chat. In a few minutes time, I know the life story of the checkout lady at Walmart. Oh, and people show up late on a regular basis, but it’s not considered rude, it’s expected. It’s “country time,” a little slower than the rest of the world.
A Warm Welcome
What amazed us most, however, was the warm welcome of the Clear Creek community. For years now, families have been moving to this area to be near Clear Creek Abbey, and even though we had only been here a few days, they instantly embraced us, the newest family to arrive. The Sunday after we moved in, we were treated to a large “welcome” potluck, doubling as a celebration of the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. Many people turned out for food, games, and conversation. We had dozens of instant friends.
A week later, we attended the Clear Creek fall festival. A country band played lively music, kids chased each other, people danced traditional dances, and sausages sizzled on the grill. As, my wife and I sat around a huge bonfire under a star-filled night sky, we whispered to each other that this seemed almost too good to be true.
While we have been astonishingly happy here, our first two weeks haven’t been without trials. As I mentioned, we were warned that everyone who moves here quickly experiences some difficulty shortly after. It is jokingly referred to as the “Clear Creek curse.” Whether it’s spiritual warfare or simply a bizarre pattern, it seems to hold true.
The day we closed on our house, we were somewhat giddy and in a celebratory mood. But as soon as we got home, every pipe in the house began to back up. Our septic was clogged. We hoped it simply needed to be pumped, but it wasn’t that easy. Somewhere, the line had problems and need to be replaced. We were faced with an emergency repair that meant excavating the yard and ended up costing into the four figures.
We hoped that was the end of it, our rite of passage, so to speak. But then, a few days later, the kids were getting in their pajamas while we were in the other room. Suddenly, we heard a crash. Max, our 3 year old, had climbed from the bunk bed onto the top of an adjacent dresser. He slipped and fell five feet onto a concrete floor. He was beside himself as you can imagine, and we weren’t sure if he had a concussion or worse. We rushed him to the emergency room, where they quickly did a CT scan and discovered a fracture in his skull. Because our small local hospital was unprepared to handle such a case, we were rushed by ambulance to Tulsa, where he spent the night in the Children’s Hospital. Needless to say, we are getting carpet with a thick pad.
Thanks to many prayers, he recovered quickly and is now back to his energetic self, but it was an exhausting and terrifying ordeal. We are truly thankful he recovered so rapidly. Once again, however, the Clear Creek community surrounded us with love. We sent out an email asking for prayers and quickly had many people interceding for us, as well as several meals scheduled to be delivered, completely unasked for. We were in awe.
The Best is Yet to Come
While it’s been an eventful two weeks, we couldn’t be more happy to be here. It truly feels like home. We are blessed to have our own home and our own piece of land, surrounded by beautiful country, friendly neighbors, a beautiful monastery, and a wonderful community. We don’t know what God has in store for us, but we know that it is good. Stay tuned!