Two Weeks at Clear Creek

Our chickens

Our chickens

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

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.

Peter pretending to be Robin Hood.

Peter pretending to be Robin Hood.

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

Evening in our back yard.

Evening in our back yard.

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.

Trials Too

Poor Max in the hospital.

Poor Max in the hospital.

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.

Our happy country girl...and a chicken.

Our happy country girl…and a chicken.

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!

print

15 Responses to “Two Weeks at Clear Creek”

  1. All the best to you Sam! I know the pains of moving – 4 times in 6 years. While I don’t have a family, I can certainly commiserate with the stress and uncertainty that surrounds the whole thing. I hope your time in the shadow of Clear Creek is a blessing to both you and your family!

  2. God Bless you all.

    Be aware that Moving House is one of the Four Most Stressful Things (Bereavement, Divorce, Annual Holiday, Moving House).

    From now on, it only GETS BETTER. Thank The Lord !!!

    Rest assured your story, and The Community at Clear Creek, will be on my Weekly Reading List.

    So please The Little Ones have settled in and are well. Thank God.

    Lots of Prayers.

  3. A word about bunk beds…. don’t let a toddler or young child sleep in an upper bunk. “The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission say that children under six years old should never be allowed to sleep on the upper bunk, with other experts extending that to eight or nine years old”. I wanted bunks so bad when I had my first three boys, and they were ages 1, 3 and 5. I wanted the baby bed in the room and the two boys in bunks… but it knew the three year old would climb up to the top for fun, even if he was told to stay in the bottom… so we never did get them. .opting for three single beds in our largest bedroom till they were teenagers in fact:) So happy to hear the cracked skull was not worse than it was. A head injury can be so dangerous. Thank God he is fine.

    • We just took ours apart and let them be singe beds til the younger boy was six. It was a little crowded in the room but …with boys, you are gonna hit the emergency room at least once a year anyway, so why tempt more trips?

  4. Good for you guys! Many prayers on your transition. Let me know if the community there is ever in need of a CPA and I’ll be the next one moving in!

  5. You might want to do a ‘sub-blog’ strictly about your move, adjustment, settling in, becoming rural, changing churches, etc. Those alone will be like adventure reading for some of us who wish we could be there with you!

  6. Sam! I am so happy for all of you. Although the initial challenges may seem daunting I can only imagine that this move will be so spiritually rewarding (as you have already described) for your family. I often wonder if it is in God’s plans for our family to have a similar move one day….Clear Creek is beautiful and I am sure that we will bring Billy back in the next couple of years. I think it is a wonderful place for every young man who is discerning a religious vocation to visit. Hugs to Laura and those beautiful kids. Please keep Bernadette in your Rosaries, if possible, as she is continuing to have complications with seizures.

Leave a Reply