But there are dreams that cannot be,
And there are storms we cannot weather!
From I Dreamed a Dream in Les Miserables
I love everything about Les Mis as it is known in my family. I’ve seen it on stage in multiple theatres in two countries, wore out the cassette tape version, have two CD versions in my car, and frequently listen to them. The quote above is my favorite quote from one of my favorite songs from this immortal story.
Back in the late 60s, before we knew our daughter would soon be joining our new marriage, Jim and I had a dream about what could become our first home that wasn’t campus housing or a marginal apartment. He was finishing college at Bowling Green. I was in my first full-time adult job at The Defiance Collage 45 miles to the west. We frequently drove through the charming village of Florida about halfway between the two.
A Dream Forms
This route took us past what had once upon a time been St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. The congregation moved to a new location and sold the building pictured here.
Some gutsy older single woman, whose name I’ve long since forgotten, bought it and turned it into her home. She was ready to move on and put a “For Sale” sign out front. We stopped by one day on our regular travels between Defiance and Bowling to get the tour. It was love at first sight. We wanted to live there.
What had been the chancel was now her living room. She created her bedroom in the choir loft, accessible only by a steep flight of stairs. Under the loft area, she created a kitchen and bathroom. Where the pews had once been, she had all manner of interesting furniture and furnishings.
We drove the miles between Defiance and Bowling Green speculating on all the amazing things we could do with that space. The parties we could host. The fun it would be to make it our own. The beauty of the stained glass windows.
Financing the Dream
We had only one small problem. We were living on my annual income of $5,000, supplemented by the part-time student-rate income Jim earned working at the BGSU Radio and TV station. Our combined income was nowhere near sufficient to make a downpayment and manage monthly mortgage payments. We struggled to come up with our $75/month rent.
But that did not stop us from dreaming about how wonderful it would be to call the lovely brick building our home. Dreams generate enthusiasm and hope. We had plenty of both, if not the funds to implement our dream. We did have four employed parents between us. So we asked them for a loan to make the downpayment.
I do not know if they conferred with each other, but they all were in agreement. “No.” No discussion. No bartering or bargaining. Just one loud, clear, not-to-be-challenged “No.”
A Dream That Could Not Be
Life went on. Jim graduated. Carol joined us, followed after a couple of years by Karen. We rented a while. We bought and sold a variety of homes in a plethora of places. Over time I completely forgot about the little Florida church. Until a couple of weeks ago when I was back in Northwest Ohio. We drove from Defiance to Bowling Green, right through Florida. And there was the church! Only now, it is a library. A library! Perfect. Being the daughter of a librarian, I literally partially grew up in libraries. Being a pastor, I’ve spent countless hours in churches of all sizes and locations.
Librarian Megan was also part genealogist and part local historian. She gave us a great tour of the library. I’ve since donated two of my books to the collection in a place that never became one of my many homes. There are dreams that cannot be. Perhaps, because they get in the way of other things that were meant to be instead.
Dreams That Do Come True
Who knows? If I had lived there, might I have missed out on the many wonderful other experiences I’ve had since then? It is true. There are dreams that cannot be and storms we cannot weather. It is equally true other dreams come along that are meant to be. Writing has always been one of my dreams. That dream has come true in astonishing ways.
I never got to live in this little brick church, but now two of my books do. If your travels ever take you to Florida, Ohio, take time to check out this delightful little church-turned-library. Megan will show you great hospitality.
PS: Readers need not apologize for reading books on loan from libraries. People who love books and libraries are thrilled to support libraries. If you love a book, be sure to tell someone about it. Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising. Asking your library to order a copy of your favorite book, even if I didn’t write it.
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Mary Brewster’s Love Life and Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures: available wherever books are sold. Bookshop.org/Mayflower; Mary Brewster
Amazon.com/Mary Brewster’s Love Life
BarnesandNoble/MaryBrewster Autographed copies are available on my website.