Do you long for change? Last December, when we bought our little house in the big woods, the weathered shingles were as gray as a dreary winter day. A rusting light fixture hung outside the mold-stained fiberglass door, with the house number scrawled on front with black permanent marker.

Once loved, the house had sat empty and neglected for years. Now it was ours. After installing pine floors and painting the walls, our work came to a standstill as other priorities demanded our time and attention. Planting a garden. Selling my mother’s house. Sorting through her things.

The squash and pumpkins now hang heavy on the vines that curl around the small patch of earth I dug and planted beside the dirt drive. Sunflowers open their showy heads, leaning this way and that on their stalky legs. My mom’s things are mostly tucked away. But, with fall and winter on the way, something had to be done about all that gray.

Life is hard enough. Winter, isolating. Before it closed in, I needed to create something fierce to stand against all that ice and dark. I needed progress. Stay static too long, and I fear that it will always be like this. The way it is now. Funny, I never think that way about good things, just those I want to change.

And so, missing my mother, an artist who always knew the right shade, I bought one gallon of paint. Cottage red. Just one, in case it wasn’t right. Knowing my need for headway, my husband, Dana, and teenage sons slapped it on. The transformation was immediate. Warm. Comforting. I bought six more gallons, hoping to get it all on before the days turn cold.

But how shabby the rusting light looked beside our door.

“It needs an onion lantern,” Dana said.

A quick search on Craigslist revealed four brass onion-shaped lanterns for $50 just up the highway in the farming town of Vassalboro. As soon as we brought them home, Dana stood on our front step and wired one in place. Then we rested side-by-side under the starry night, leaning against the still-warm hood of our van, and admired the soft light spilling out against those newly emboldened boards.

This was a home I could live in. This was a place of comfort to hole up during the long winter. In dark times, in hard places, sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest difference. Yes, the roof still needs replacing, and the front steps fixing, but we are making progress.

Our need for progress points to a longing for the perfect. Not just the perfect color or fixture but to a destination where all will be well and right and complete. “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world,” C.S. Lewis wrote.

That is the place I find myself seeking — in paint and light in a land that is often dark and cold.

Meadow Rue Merrill writes and reflects on God’s presence in her ordinary life from a little house in the big woods of Mid-coast Maine.

Her memoir, “Redeeming Ruth,” releases in May 2017. Find her at

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