The Muk

A space is just a space, until you make it something more.

When my sister and brother-in-law bought their last home, they bought it not because it was the place of their dreams, but because it was the only one they could agree on. Determined to make a decision, they invited me to go along as they drove from listing to listing to listing. It was a long day.

At the time, they were moving from the home where they had raised their daughters, and they weren’t exactly sure what the next chapter would bring. He however was sure he wanted a shop, and she was certain she wanted a home with some charm and a garden. Sometimes I rode with him, and sometimes with her. Like I said. It was a long day.

By the end of the afternoon, he had his eye on a so-so house with a shop on a very busy street, and she was starry-eyed about the adorable cottage with a secret garden that overlooked the lanes to the ferry. We’d also looked at a townhome in Mukilteo. It overlooked the Puget Sound, and while it had a killer view of Whidbey Island, It didn’t have a shop, and it didn’t have a secret garden. With no decision in sight and all in need of caffeine, we headed to Starbucks. Breaking the silence, I asked each of them a question. Could she live in the so-so house on the busy street with the shop? No, she could not. Could he live in the adorable cottage with the secret garden that overlooked the ferry lanes? No, he could not. Well then, I asked, could they live in the townhome overlooking the Puget Sound with the killer view of Whidbey Island, but without a shop or a secret garden?

They could, and, as it turned out, they did.

After fourteen years, they are moving out of the The Muk. Even though it wasn’t what they’d imagined, or even hoped for, they moved in and made it work. They made it into a lovely space with lovely furnishings.

As it turns out, it was so much more than that.

A few nights ago their daughters, sons-in-law, and a passel of grandkids showed up to say goodbye to the The Muk. Apparently it wasn’t a place one could simply leave without a proper farewell. Crowded onto a small balcony, stories of times at the Muk began to unfold, painting a picture of a shelter from storms, a place where all who came felt safe, seen, heard, and loved. The Muk was a refuge of healing, hope, and a place where the truth, no matter how hard, was spoken and heard, and freedom was found.

When they moved in it was just a space with a view.

When they moved in they made it into a lovely space with lovely furnishings.

But a space with a view, no matter how beautiful, and a carefully furnished place no matter how lovely, do not a refuge make. Only love and grace and faith and truth and laughter and family and friendship and courage and compassion and tradition and extravagant welcome can do that.

Farewell to the Muk. We are all better for having known you.