Miracle on Harmon Field Road

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Bible is filled with miracle stories. And there are also miracle stories all around us. Some are more noticeable than others, but all are important. This is the story of a miracle on Harmon Field Road. It happened in April of 2016, but the story began years before.

Now you’d have to know me to appreciate the complexities of this miracle. Seven years ago Mary and I moved to Tryon from Atlanta, Ga. We moved at a time when Mary was not fully ambulatory, awaiting another miracle, in fact two of them, in the form of new hips courtesy of Dr. Roesenburg and the fine staff at St Luke’s Hospital. During our move a combination of Mary’s physical challenges, my desire to jump right into my ministry work at Tryon Presbyterian Church, and my own deficiencies in good organizational skills led to a perfect storage storm.

Unloading the moving van, the movers would carry dozens of brown cardboard boxes into the foyer and always ask the same question: “Where do you want this?” And I would say, “What is marked on the box?” And the mover would say, “Nothing.” “Oops,” I thought. The seconds would tick by, in silence. Two other movers would arrive with additional boxes. Soon the foyer looked like a checkout line at Target on the day before Christmas. Finally I would say, “Put it in the basement storage room.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Combine those growing stacks of boxes with all the other things that actually belonged in that storage room, like my workbench, the bicycles, and tools, and the end result was a room packed with stuff. That was 2009. Add to that experience the car loads of family heirlooms and remembrances we brought back from Florida when Mary’s mother died in 2011, and again from Atlanta when my mother died in 2014, and by January 2016 our basement storage room looked like the treasure scene in the movie National Treasure, complete with the cobwebs.

So in March 2016 I announced to the world right here in my article in the Tryon Daily Bulletin that I was going to undertake a special Lenten discipline of simplifying my life and dealing with all this stuff. And I worked at it. Hard. For weeks. And I actually made several trips to the thrift store, and threw away several bags of garbage, but the room still looked full. Every time I went down the stairs to that storage room it seemed like someone had snuck in and deposited another box or two – unmarked of course.

I was in total despair. Naturally, as a closet Calvinist I should have realized the futility of “works righteousness,” even good works like cleaning out a storage room, as well as the pervasiveness of sin that seemed to conjure all kinds of un-Christian feelings inside me as I struggled with this morass of clutter. Deep down I knew, as some of my friends in AA had learned long ago, that this was a problem that I could not solve on my own. And that’s where the miracle began.

It was a cold night in late March when Mary got a call from our daughter Kim who lives in Sarasota, Fla. Kim said she wanted to come up and help us clean out the storage room. Initially I hesitated because of my pride (one of the “seven deadly sins,” by the way), but I quickly got over that. With her usual wisdom Mary suggested, “This will be good for your spiritual growth.” Little did she know.

Kim arrived late one Sunday in April, and from the moment of her arrival things began to happen. First she walked through the whole house with the eye of a contractor who’s about to demolish a room and rebuild it, making copious notes and diagrams. Then there was a quick trip to the store to get garbage bags, boxes, and tape. Then a quick Internet search to identify the location of thrift stores, recycling options, and the dump. Then began what seemed like a marathon five-day endurance test, for everyone.

“Do you want this?” she would ask. When we hesitated she would follow with, “Can you ever see yourself using this again? Is this a family heirloom? How much joy does this give you?” Sometimes I found myself responding, “What is it?” Gradually things began moving to distinct piles all around the house. It looked like a construction zone.

Then all kinds of things began exiting the basement by the wagon load. Almost by themselves they just seemed to disappear. Actually they didn’t disappear. They found new homes in thrift stores all over Polk County. And some alas, went to the dump, with a proper burial of course.

As the week went on, gradually the dust settled and you could almost see the window on the other side of the basement storage room. Then another surprise. Kim’s brother David took two days off from his work and flew up to help finish the job, and together Kim and David filled a small U-Haul truck with stuff that might have family value, or items that no longer brought us joy, or things we couldn’t remember why we had to begin with. And then early Saturday morning the two of them waved and drove off with that small truck full of various treasures.

Afterward Mary and I went down to the basement. We were overwhelmed with gratitude. We couldn’t believe our eyes. It was clean, peaceful, uncluttered, and organized. It was a miracle – a miracle on Harmon Field Road.

To be sure this miracle was a gift from God, but it was also an incredible gift from two of our children. The whole experience has made me realize how many different miracles in our lives are delivered through the good graces of other people, family, and friends. It’s also made me much more aware of how many times these miracles happen in my daily life, especially when I actually take the time to notice them.

And the whole experience has helped me to see some of the potential effects that my own words and actions might have on other people, as well as opportunities to help that I have overlooked. As hopeless as my Lenten goal seemed early on, in the end my experience of Lent this year was life-changing. Sure the clutter was gone. But more importantly it was like someone had cleaned out some of the clutter in my mind as well.

It was a miracle, but actually nothing new. God’s been doing that kind of thing for a long time. It just takes some people like me a while to learn. And I don’t know about you, but I think that’s worth remembering.

– Dent Davis, Pastor, Tryon Presbyterian Church